National swimmer Pang Sheng Jun picks himself up after low point following 2011 SEA Games defeat

Singapore's Pang Sheng Jun competes in the heats of the men's 200m individual medley swimming event during the 17th Asian Games at the Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Centre in Incheon on Sept 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Singapore's Pang Sheng Jun competes in the heats of the men's 200m individual medley swimming event during the 17th Asian Games at the Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Centre in Incheon on Sept 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Singapore quartet (from left) Danny Yeo, Pang Sheng Jun, Teo Zhen Ren and Clement Lim, rewrote the national 4x200m freestyle relay record at the Asian Games in Incheon, on 22 Sept 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Singapore quartet (from left) Danny Yeo, Pang Sheng Jun, Teo Zhen Ren and Clement Lim, rewrote the national 4x200m freestyle relay record at the Asian Games in Incheon, on 22 Sept 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Utterly disheartened after coming in fifth for his event at the 2011 SEA Games, national swimmer Pang Sheng Jun thought of taking his own life.

"I went back to the Games Village and stood at the highest level, leaning on the railing... At that moment in time, the only way out was to just jump. To be honest you tend to not think straight when you are in that current state of mood," wrote the 22-year-old in a blog post on Saturday.

He wrote that he wanted to share this incident because it could "help someone", and because it had taken place three years ago.

At that low point in 2011, Mr Pang wrote that he did not know how to face reality. His mind then was preoccupied with the fact that his mother was disappointed with his result and "did not even want to talk to me". He had promised his army sergeant major that he would bring back a medal, and he had not met his coach's expectations.

"Nobody knew how I was feeling," he wrote.

He would have committed suicide, if not for a good friend, Russell, who happened to walk past the moment he was about to make the jump.

Russell pulled him away from the railing, and Mr Pang explained to him what he almost did. Russell told him: "It's a really selfish thing to do, don't do it, think about everyone else. There is still 2013 SEA Games, trust me you can always aim to win that one."

Touched by his friend's words, and after remembering his loved ones, he stepped away from the railing.

He wrote about that turning point: "As the saying goes, time heals all wounds, and I slowly bounced back over the years and that setback really motivated me to train much harder than I ever did."

He went on to win a Gold medal in last year's SEA Games.

He was also part of the award-winning team that rewrote the national 4x200m freestyle relay record at last month's Asian Games in Incheon. Earlier this year, he also received an Outstanding Sports Achievement Award for swimming from the Singapore Sports School.

"Everything is looking good towards SEA Games 2015," he wrote.

His advice to his readers: "If you ever feel that it is impossible to find a way out in life, trust me, everything will get better in time. I have been there myself, and I got out of it, you just have to fight hard don't ever think about giving up! Everyone faces failures before success."

brynasim@sph.com.sg