Singapore—National Paralympic swimmer and inspiration to so many Theresa Goh retired earlier this month after a long and storied athletic career in a Facebook post on September 16.
The multi-awarded swimmer wrote,
“Goodbyes are hard y’all, but it’s time and I’m ready. 20 years of blood, sweat and tears have now come to an end. Was it worth it? Every single drop.
Thank you to everyone who’ve been so supportive, sport Singapore, Singapore disability sports council, my loved ones, my sponsors, Speedo and Genesis gym, and everyone who’ve been on this incredible journey with me. It honestly turned out better than I ever dreamed. I am eternally grateful. 🥰 ⠀
🍻Here’s to the future and continuing my attempt to make a difference on this mortal plane….” ⠀
Goodbyes are hard y’all, but it’s time and I’m ready. 20 years of blood, sweat and tears have now come to an end. Was it…
While Ms Goh is currently on a well-deserved holiday break in Iceland, she took the time to answer some questions from The Independent Singapore (TISG) about her life, the future, and any possible regrets she may have. ⠀
TISG: 1. What are the biggest life lessons in your career?
I think some things I’ve learnt from swimming are how things aren’t as important as you think. It’s a bit of a contradiction because many of us are conditioned to strive and aim for medals and podium finishes but the thing is, there are things that are more important.
It’s all about balance I think. I still haven’t completely figured out how to most accurately verbalise how I feel but basically I think I learnt the importance of knowing what makes you happy and that is ultimately the most important thing.
2. Do you have any regrets?
In general, no. I’ve done everything I want to pretty consciously. Even if there are things that have made me sad, or angry, or are just negative emotions, I still don’t regret those times because they have been lessons and made me the person I am today.
3. What would be your message for future generations of athletes, especially for those who face the same physical challenges as you have?
Work hard, be humble. But never let anyone step all over you. Fight for what you deserve. I think it’s also important to be aware of what a privilege you may have, having a voice to speak out about issues that matter to you.
4. What’s next for you?
I’m on holiday at the moment in Iceland and it’s been really really nice. I have to start thinking about the future really soon so that means I have to go get some job interviews going soon! It’s a little scary but I’m also super excited for the future!
A shining career, an inspiring life
Ms Goh was born at 7 months with a congenital medical condition called spina bifida which caused her to be paralysed from the waist down.
As a young child, she had to learn how to develop her upper body strength, since she could not use her legs. Her father taught her to swim, and afterwards, she became unstoppable.
At 12, she began winning swimming competitions. At 17, she represented Singapore in the 2004 Athens Paralympics, and all while setting and breaking records left and right. Before she was even old enough, she found herself bagging medals left and right.
In the same year, she quit school to concentrate on preparing for the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics, coached by Singaporean swimming legend, Ang Peng Siong.
However, during the finals for her favourite event, the 100-meter breaststroke, a fit of nervousness caused her to lose focus, and she missed out on the bronze medal by a hair.
She stopped swimming for nine months and then took up the sport again, with renewed zeal and determination. Long story short, in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, she won the bronze medal for the 100-meter breaststroke event.
Aside from her illustrious career as a swimmer, Ms Goh has taken her stand as an advocate for local LGBT rights group Pink Dot, identifying as a queer woman, publicly coming out in 2017.
In The Birthday Book Ms Goh wrote, “I consider myself a half-written book.
As with all of us, my story will not simply be told to me—I will have a role in shaping it and I am eager to see how the rest of my narrative pans out.
My current hope is for Singapore to continue growing and advancing, and maybe one day, we’ll all be able to live in a world where we can be whomever we want to be and be part of a world where a queer, disabled, female person doesn’t feel so out of place.” -/TISG