A-Level 2022 Features: Success is a Balancing Act

By: Sonia Maya (22A01C), Loh Zhao Hong (23S03A), Victoria Lim (23S06B) 

This year, Raffles Press invited eight Year 7s to share their experiences in JC, whether it be pursuing their interests or persevering through difficulty. We hope that their stories will inspire you and provide a glimpse into the lives of Rafflesians beyond academics.  

This is Part 3 of our A-Level 2022 Student Feature.

Denyse Chan

At just 8 years old, Denyse Chan entered the world of fencing and has never looked back since. With more than a decade of experience, she has a wealth of achievements ranging from competing locally to representing Singapore internationally. 

The national fencer was part of a team of four that made history by clinching Singapore’s first gold medal at the 2019 Asian Juniors and Cadets Fencing Championships in 2019. This is Denyse’s proudest achievement as they had overcome the Japanese team in the finals for the first time ever. All the members had fenced exceptionally well that day. 

However, these successes did not come easily for Denyse. Upon entering RI in 2020, the new school environment was not the only thing she had to get accustomed to. The unexpected arrival of Covid-19 had forced her to adjust to fencing during a pandemic. 

Due to safe management measures, she could not meet her training mates much. Competitions were also cancelled, making her question the purpose of her training, which eventually caused her to lose morale. This was something that she struggled with while also trying to manage her academic commitments. 

A large part of the school year was spent at home, with students attending lessons through home-based learning (HBL). For Denyse, HBL made her feel uncertain about her learning process sometimes, especially since she was taking new subjects that she was not exposed to in secondary school. However, she soon adjusted to HBL and appreciated the newfound flexibility to learn at her own pace while still managing to accommodate her training. Not having to fly overseas for fencing competitions also made it easier for her to focus on her studies. 

As she transitioned to JC2, the A-Levels became her next big challenge. During the lead-up to As, she found herself losing sight of her goals and questioning her hard work altogether. Thankfully, Denyse had pillars of support to depend on for help and advice. For example, her teachers helped her by recommending personalised study approaches. 

That said, she managed to settle into a studying routine that worked for her, which revolved around being organized and setting realistic goals. During our interview, Denyse joked that she could always be found checking and updating a OneNote mega calendar to schedule the upcoming week. This ensures that there is always a comprehensive overview of her tasks. Denyse also cautioned that while setting goals, it is important to understand your own limitations and abilities.  

What motivated Denyse through the tough times was her determination to always do better. To her, getting good results is great but it is even more important to always work on improving. She also believes in doing her best for her family, as a way of showing gratitude for their unwavering support. 

Going forward, Denyse plans to continue competing in fencing tournaments. Her team has just qualified for the SEA and Asian Games and she is also looking to attend the World Championships this year. In the academic sphere, Denyse is eagerly anticipating her university application results. She aims to read political science and international relations in the United States. 

Roy Ng Kai Leong

A javelin thrower who broke national records not once but twice, Roy Ng is an undoubtedly talented and accomplished individual. His accolades go beyond his sport, with Roy having achieved stellar results for the grueling A-levels.

Though Covid-19 and the advent of home-based learning (HBL) was a bane for many, Roy was a fortunate exception to this pattern. As someone who enjoys studying by himself, the pandemic gave him the perfect opportunity to settle into his own routine and be away from distractions. 

Unfortunately, the academic benefits the pandemic granted him did not extend to his sporting career, as the suspension of training meant he had to find creative ways to improve his form without the direct support of his coaches. Nonetheless, Roy stayed disciplined through it all, carrying out exercises at home and even going the extra mile to purchase equipment to introduce into his training routine. Roy’s dedication was made clear when he broke national javelin records twice in the mere span of six months. 

Regardless, JC was not a mere bed of roses for Roy. During our interview, he confessed that his most difficult period came at the beginning of Y6 in 2021. Having had just broken the national record for the second time in December of 2020, he felt himself stagnating as an athlete from January to March. To make matters worse, the introduction of Organic Chemistry into the H2 Chemistry syllabus during this time now made both school and training incredibly stressful. 

Yet, as we know, Roy rose above all these struggles and performed well for his A-levels. His secret? Putting his studies before his sport, especially in the lead up to the A-levels. In Roy’s view, putting his sport before academics would have been “a tightrope to walk”, especially in the paper-driven society we live in today. As such, Roy made it a goal to “get his studies done well first”, as this would give him a good academic foundation to pursue his sporting dreams freely. 

When asked about his proudest accomplishment, Roy shared, though admittedly cliche, that it was not his material achievements, but his ability to strike a balance between sport and academia that he was most proud of. Though breaking national records was an impressive feat, Roy feels that these achievements were merely a “bonus” that assured him he was going in the right direction. 

As for what his future holds, Roy is interested in reading Business or Economics in university, but he is still uncertain as to whether he will be attending university locally or abroad. Thankfully, his 2-year holiday as an NSman will give him ample time to reflect and make the best decision for his future. 

On the sporting end, Roy is taking advantage of his weekends off from serving the nation to train hard for future competitions. He is currently training for the upcoming SEA Games in May, in which he hopes to clinch a medal. Though Roy’s journey as a student athlete in RI has come to an end, his hopes for the future tell us that we have not seen the last of his sporting dexterity just yet. 

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