STUDYING is never easy. Excelling in both sport and studies is even harder. Few do well in both; even fewer among them choose sport over their studies.
Badminton player Grace Chua, 19, is one of those who has decided to take the path less travelled.
Scoring an impressive 44 out of 45 in last year's International Baccalaureate, she made the bold move to put aside her studies to focus on badminton.
Making her debut at the SEA Games this year, she remarked: "I had a strong passion in badminton and I wanted to take it to the next level and take part in international competitions."
Chua will be delaying her university education for a couple of years depending on her badminton performance.
Even though Methodist Girls' School (MGS), where she studied, did not have badminton as a co-curricular activity, she never gave up on the sport.
She said: "Since MGS did not have a badminton team, I was not able to take part in inter-school competitions. But I train with the (national) youth squad in the evenings, and was still able to gain exposure by taking part in youth competitions.
"I managed to form a team to represent MGS at the inter-school competition in my final year there. It was recognised as a CCA a year after."
Chua credits her parents who were her pillars of support during the hectic years when she juggled both sport and school.
She said: "They would take me to and from training and school, and helped me prepare my meals. This gave me more time to focus on my studies and sport and I am really grateful for that."
Despite many people in Singapore placing great emphasis on studies, she has not looked back on her decision to pursue her sporting dream.
She said: "I feel that since I have already reached such a high level, it is fine for me to put aside other things for the moment and focus on sport and achieve even better results."
For the SEA Games, she is excited and aims to perform well in front of the home crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. She hopes that her hard work will translate into a good performance on court.
Asked about her plans in badminton, Chua added: "I will put aside my studies for a while and see how far I can go and how much I can improve. If things really do not go as planned, I can still return to my studies."