Lim takes leap to set up school

She was Singapore's first and only gymnast to compete at the Olympic Games and Lim Heem Wei is hoping to help others chart a similar path.

Barely a month into her retirement, the 25-year-old is already busy making plans to set up her own private school, Olympic Dreams Gymnastics, to guide the next generation of budding stars.

It will start in early February and Lim - who has found financial backing for the club - has shortlisted a few centrally-located venues for training, including one in Bukit Timah.

She told The Straits Times: "I wanted to continue contributing to the sport even after I retire and I believe, with this club, we will be able to raise the quality of gymnastics training here in Singapore."

Former national coach Zhao Qun will be the club's senior coach while discussions with Lim's other mentor Yuan Kexia are ongoing.

Originally from China, the pair were part of the national coaching set-up at Singapore Gymnastics for about a decade but were let go in October.

Such invaluable knowledge and experience cannot be wasted, said Lim who had trained under them since she was 15.

The teaching staff at Olympic Dreams will be further strengthened by a mixture of current and ex-national gymnasts as well as coaches who were previously involved with the national squad.

Lim, in consultation with Zhao and the other coaches, will be developing and overseeing all training programmes offered at her club.

She said: "There will be an elite level of expertise and technical knowledge that the coaches will be able to offer, which I think will set us apart from other schools.

"But everyone has different goals and I want to cater to all kids at different levels."

While winning the Republic's first Commonwealth Games gymnastics medal (silver) in Delhi in 2010 and qualifying for the Olympics in London two years later are the pinnacles of her sporting career, Lim wants to offer different routes for other aspiring talents as well.

"This is not just about getting someone up to the Olympic level," stressed the business graduate from the National University of Singapore who will work full-time at Olympic Dreams.

"It's more than that.

"It's about character development and building passion for the sport which are equally important values to instill."

A website and a Facebook page have been launched while registration for classes is available.

An open house has also been scheduled for the middle of next month.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Lim has set herself a target of building up a student population of about 200 within a year of operation.

Initially, Olympic Dreams will offer four categories for girls from the age of four, based on their skill levels and interests.

There will also be a group for boys aged six to 12 and a separate programme for adults.

Said Lim: "I'm really excited for the future of the sport and hope to make a difference to gymnastics in a different way."

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This article was first published on December 27, 2014.
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