Twin national gymnasts land top scores in IB exams

(From left) Phebe Meredith Lau Zhi Ling and Michele Petrova Lau Xin Ling, both 18. Last year, besides attending school, the two had to juggle training with their Aesthetic Group Gymnastics team, as well as coaching the new generation of rhythmic gymnasts.
(From left) Phebe Meredith Lau Zhi Ling and Michele Petrova Lau Xin Ling, both 18. Last year, besides attending school, the two had to juggle training with their Aesthetic Group Gymnastics team, as well as coaching the new generation of rhythmic gymnasts. The pair ranked among the top scorers from the Singapore Sports School in the International Baccalaureate Diploma exams.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Twin sisters Michele Petrova Lau Xin Ling and Phebe Meredith Lau Zhi Ling have both been in gymnastics since their early days at Marymount Convent School.

Michele joined the school team when she was seven, and her sister joined her the following year. At the age of eight, both got into the National High Performance Training Squad.

Last Friday, the 18-year-olds ranked among the top scorers from the Singapore Sports School in the International Baccalaureate Diploma exams.

Michele, to her surprise, achieved the highest score in her school - 44 points. "I thought that 43 would be the highest that I can go," she said.

Phebe also did well, scoring 42 points, which puts her among her school's top five students.

When asked how they managed to juggle both their commitments to the sport as well as their studies, the pair agreed that it all came down to time management and discipline.

"We were usually very busy, so we had to use whatever free time we had to study," said Phebe.

Last year, besides attending school, the two also had to juggle training with their Aesthetic Group Gymnastics (AGG) team, as well as coaching the new generation of rhythmic gymnasts.

The twins have trained in rhythmic gymnastics for 10 years, but gave up the sport in 2018 due to injuries.

In that same year, they discovered AGG, a new sport in Singapore, and joined its pioneer team here.

"We were so amazed by the sport - it is so beautiful," said Phebe.

 
 
 
 

AGG allowed them to tap their previous training in rhythmic gymnastics while being more gentle on the body.

The sisters became rhythmic gymnastics coaches to contribute to the continued development of the sport in Singapore. Their young charges range from four to 14 years old.

"We enjoy it a lot, as we both like kids," said Michele, adding that coaching also helped them to become financially independent.

"We have not taken any pocket money from our parents since we were 17."

Having a packed schedule is nothing new to the sisters.

"When we were in primary school, it was pretty hard for us," said Michele, about balancing their various commitments.

After school, they would attend rhythmic gymnastic training from 4pm to 8pm. Back home, they would have tuition from 9pm to 11pm.

"After that, we did our homework, before going to sleep and waking up at 6am the next day to catch the school bus," said Phebe.

"It was very tough," admitted Michele, but the sisters said knowing that they were in it together helped.

Ultimately, their hard work paid off, with both representing Singapore in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2017 SEA Games when they were 16, making them the youngest on the team.

This year, the two plan to focus on three things: AGG, coaching, and applying for university.

Both have NUS and SMU in mind.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2020, with the headline 'Twin national gymnasts land top scores in IB exams'. Print Edition | Subscribe