Sick during WorldSkills, she perseveres to clinch gold

Ms Regina Chia with her gold medal at the closing ceremony of the 45th WorldSkills Competition on Tuesday night. ST PHOTO: JOLENE ANG Ms Regina Chia competing in her skill area of health and social care on the second day of the WorldSkills Competitio
Ms Regina Chia competing in her skill area of health and social care on the second day of the WorldSkills Competition last Saturday, after delaying her competition schedule by two hours to see a doctor because she was unwell. She was given scenarios to respond to, such as having to treat a patient who had suffered a stroke and could not speak.PHOTO: WORLDSKILLS SINGAPORE
Ms Regina Chia with her gold medal at the closing ceremony of the 45th WorldSkills Competition on Tuesday night. ST PHOTO: JOLENE ANG Ms Regina Chia competing in her skill area of health and social care on the second day of the WorldSkills Competitio
Ms Regina Chia with her gold medal at the closing ceremony of the 45th WorldSkills Competition on Tuesday night. ST PHOTO: JOLENE ANG

Nursing grad is one of two gold recipients from S'pore, which bags record 22 awards

Ms Regina Chia was 15 minutes away from her turn to showcase her skill on the second day of the WorldSkills Competition for young people when she started to feel dizzy and nauseous.

She had to request to push back her competition schedule by two hours to see a doctor, and struggled to get back on track after that.

So when the 20-year-old was awarded a gold medal in her skill area of health and social care at the competition's closing ceremony on Tuesday, it was a surprise.

It was one of two gold medals won by Singapore at the global competition of vocational skills, dubbed the "Olympics of Skills", held in Kazan, Russia, this year.

In total, Singapore's 32-strong contingent bagged 22 awards, the highest number since the Republic started taking part in 1995.

Singapore finished ninth out of 63 countries. The previous record for Singapore was 17 medals, secured at WorldSkills Sao Paulo 2015.

Participants from Singapore's polytechnics, Institute of Technical Education and Nanyang Technological University took part in the competition, which began last Friday.

The other gold medal was won by Ms Tan Ying Ying, 20, from Nanyang Polytechnic, who competed in 3D digital game art.

Singapore also clinched a silver in freight forwarding, and a bronze medal each in cyber security and water technology. Another 17 young people were awarded medallions of excellence in areas such as cooking and electronics.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated the team in a Facebook post yesterday.

He noted that cyber security and water technology were skill categories Singapore was competing in for the first time this year.

Said PM Lee: "These reflect the rapidly evolving needs of the world, and I'm glad that Singapore's youth are poised to meet future challenges."

More than 1,300 people competed in 56 skill areas this year.

 
 
 
 

China emerged top overall with 35 medals, 16 of which were gold, while Russia took second place with 14 golds among its 22 medals.

The winners of Singapore's 22 awards will receive cash prizes from SkillsFuture Singapore.

Gold winners will each receive $20,000 and silver medallists will each get $10,000. Bronze medallists will each receive $5,000, while those awarded medallions of excellence will each get $1,000.

In the previous edition of the biennial competition in Abu Dhabi, Singapore placed 12th out of 59 after picking up two gold medals, three bronze medals and eight medallions of excellence.

Ms Chia, who studied nursing and graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic earlier this year, said: "When I was sick, I had to keep my smile on because that's important in health and social care - if we show that we are sad, the patient can feel it."

In her skill area, competitors are given scenarios to respond to, such as having to treat a patient who has suffered a stroke and cannot speak. In that scenario, she used hand gestures to communicate.

"I was thinking about my friends and family who were supporting me back home, and also about all the effort I've put in for this competition.

"I didn't want to give up after coming all this way," said Ms Chia, who trained for the competition for almost three years.

She beat competitors from Brazil and Sweden, who took silver and bronze respectively.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was in Kazan to visit the competition, said he was very proud of the competitors' resilience.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Tuesday, Mr Ong said: "Whatever the results are, whether they win a medal, a medallion or nothing at all, everyone has done so well.

"We have come together as a proud Singapore team and I'm very glad I came to show my support."

Mr Ong also attended the Abu Dhabi edition in 2017, making him the first education minister to visit the international competition.

The next WorldSkills Competition will take place in Shanghai in 2021.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'Sick during WorldSkills, she perseveres to clinch gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe