Meet Eric Tseng, Chef De Mission for the 2020 ASEAN Para Games. We asked Eric about his experiences in sports and thoughts about the upcoming APG. Eric also shared what goes on while preparing for the games!
Eric is part of the Executive board committee at SDSC and The Singapore Association for the Deaf. At SDSC he also serves in the subcommittee of High Performance Development, Community Sports Participation and Nomination committees.
Can you describe your past experience going to the APG as a team official (if any)?
This would be my first time going to the APG as the Chef de Mission. I look forward to applying my experiences as a former athlete to help inspire and motivate the Singapore contingent, while at the same time, gain the opportunity to learn on the ground as a Board Member of SDSC, how we can further elevate our athletes and drive greater societal inclusion through sports.
What do you enjoy most about such experiences?
Really, all about forming human connections, bonding with the coaches and athletes and sharing common experiences together. It will be a first experience for many, whether it is to represent Singapore for the first time on a national level, first time in Philippines or first major overseas competition, we are all in it together- sharing this common experience that will bond all of us together for a lifetime.
How do you prepare athletes for international games?
Our coaches have done an outstanding job in preparing our athletes, and after visiting them, I can say that they have never been more ready! What I am doing, is working with our secretariats and organizers logistically, so our teams can travel to the 2020 APG as smoothly as possible. We are learning a lot from our SEA Games compatriots on their experiences and putting up mitigation action plans. This way, our coaches and athletes can just focus on doing what they do best in the Games.
Our theme for the upcoming year is #Defylimits. Can you share how Singapore’s para athletes defy their limits?
There are endless stories here! Every athlete has defied limits in so many incredible ways. Just to share a few: our archer is ranked #1 in the world…..let me repeat #1 in the WORLD ranking! Our powerlifter who is over 60 years old, pushes 160kg on the brenchpres and he only started lifting 5 years ago! Our chess player who has low-vision, plays chess by feeling the board, and won a 1-1 match against our Ministerial Permanent Secretary (who is obviously very intelligent and highly-educated). Those are just some of the many stories to tell!
Can you share one of your happiest moments during any sporting event (if any)?
The happiest moments are always being able to compete/perform on stage in front of an audience-it’s because of all the countless hours of training, practicing and pushing limits; to be able to share the results of it, to get the support of the audience, makes everything magical and worthwhile. So that’s why always encourage our Singaporean community to come out and support our athletes in the competitions! Your presence makes a huge difference to our athletes and they really appreciate all of you in coming out to support and cheer them on.
What do you hope for the future of para-sports in Singapore?
Quite simply, for the Singaporean community to come out and join in on cheering on our athletes in competitions. Using sports as a medium, it is such a great opportunity for everyone of all ages and walks of life to support inclusion of persons with disabilities in society. And in doing so, encouraging greater participation of persons with disabilities to participate in a sport of their choosing to help them lead an active and healthy life and achieve greater inclusion in society.
What are your goals for the team for APG 2020?
Really, the goal for APG 2020 is for everyone to have a tremendous experience in celebrating their long journey that all of our coaches and athletes have done done to reach this level. The APG 2020 is not about winning medals, but about celebrating the humanity and spirit of the Games that bring a diversity of abilities, cultures and backgrounds together- together, we have more in common than differences.
How do you motivate yourself and the athletes?
Really, by the love of the Games/sport. Sports, in so many ways, gives back and makes an impact in all of our lives. Whether it helps you live a healthier and active life, shapes your character and values where you hone your personal leadership in adversity, perseverance in challenges, breaking barriers through team-work, or exhibit confidence when the moments matter. This alone motivates me to push for more, ask for me and our athletes also recognize how much they’ve grown and developed through sports and they carry this into their daily lives and future ahead.
What are some things that go on behind-the-scenes at the games?
Our Secretariats work SO HARD in leading up to and preparing for the Games! They pay so much attention to detail, manage every incident (whether it is major or minor), have a huge number of stakeholders (government ministries/members, boards, international organizers, coaches, athletes, officials, parents, plus so much more) and they do an outstanding job at it. At the Games, it may seem timely and process-oriented but really behind the scenes, it’s crazy with our Secretariats managing things with all hands on deck!
Do you play any sports yourself?
I still hit the gym regularly to stay in shape and cycle on my road bike on weekends. I’m in a few recreational groups with some colleagues of mine to play basketball, football, cricket and golf! Whenever the timing works out, I would sneak out and try and get a few games in myself! It’s such a great way to de-stress and have fun!