National swimmer Pang Sheng Jun has achieved accolades that are the stuff of dreams: three-time Southeast Asian Games gold medallist in the 4x200m freestyle relay, and 2017 SEA Games team captain.
But his journey hasn’t been easy and challenges abound, including a recent personal injury that saw him go through a dark period in his life. He shares how he overcame hurdles, with much help from his parents.
Hard work or talent: Which is more important to success?
Hard work. From personal experience, talent gives you the initial advantage to be ahead of your competitors, but hard work gives you the sustainability to be ahead of your competitors not just for a year but beyond that. As long as you stay consistent and keep working hard, you’ll be able to reach your goals one day.
Think about it. If you strive to be a bit better every day, the gains will accumulate and, by the end of the month, you’ll be so much fitter and faster. Just imagine how much you’ll be better after a year! That’s what keeps me going every day. And even though I don’t always see results instantly, I’m glad I was able to achieve the goals I set out.
You once said you believed deeply in parental support for success. Why?
My parents have always been the cornerstone of my success, and they equipped me with the belief that I can be a great swimmer. When I was young, my dad watched the 2004 Sydney Olympics with me, and I told him that, one day, I’d be in the Olympics too. He never once doubted me and said that if I kept working hard, I’d get there one day.
My parents took me seriously and started supporting me in my swimming endeavours. Dad would always send me to training, and Mum would always prepare meals for me to make sure that I ate healthily from young. They would watch all of my races and were always there to share the joys and sorrows.
It honestly felt like I had a strong team who was constantly supporting me and gave me so much more motivation to work hard every day. I had two pillars supporting me throughout my career. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be what I am today. So, thank you, Mum and Dad.