FESPIC Games’ Jovin Tan

When did you start sailing?
At the age of 15.
How did you get involved in the FESPIC Games?
I’ve been to quite a number of international events. My name was submitted by the Asian Women’s Welfare Association, because I was sort of a member there and whenever they organized sporty events, I’d participate. This is the first time that the FESPIC Games will be involving sailing, so it is a good opportunity for me to race against neighboring countries for a change, as I usually race with Western nations.
Was this something that you ever thought you would be involved in at all?
Seriously, no. My parents are working most of the time, don’t have the time or opportunity to go out with me and I didn’t want to be stuck at home, so I took up sailing. Since sailing programs provide volunteers to fetch me to and fro, which gave me the chance to step out of the house and see the world more and make new friends.
How did your family react when you mentioned that you were going to sail?
My parents were quite worried because I can’t swim, even now. They do give their support though and they tell me to be careful.
Why take up sailing if you can’t swim?
That was the first sport introduced to me. I considered stopping, but if I did, I’d be stuck at home again. I thought, “Why not give it a try?” and I just got better and better over time.
What have you gained from sailing?
Sailing really changed me a lot. It gave me the confidence to speak up or ask for help. It also gave me a sense of independence. I used to be quite pampered by my parents, but when I went overseas for my first sailing trip, there were four of us and we were all disabled. There was just one coach and one volunteer, so I couldn’t be depending on them to look after all of us. We only asked for help when we really needed it.
What sort of sacrifices have you made to take part in sailing?
A lot of time and effort. When I was training for the Olympic Games, the training was tough. And at every training session, I’d sustain injuries; lots of bruises and cuts.
Any memorable incidents that you’ve encountered while training or in competitions?
We took part in the able-bodied race for the first time and won! It was encouraging. We just wanted to challenge ourselves and see if we were up to their standards.
Any particular mantra that you repeat to yourself before a competition?
Never give up, work till the end of the race, even if something goes wrong. Be determined and persevere.