SINGAPORE - Despite travelling over 18 hours from Singapore to Guadalajara, Mexico, on Monday, national fencer Denyse Chan could not rest her weary head.
The 18-year-old stayed up past midnight in Mexico, where she is competing in the Coupe du Monde, so that she could check her A-level results, which were released on Tuesday (Feb 22).
It was worth the wait for the Raffles Institution (RI) student, who scored straight As.
She said: "I was super shocked. I called my family and started crying because I totally didn't expect it. I'm really extremely happy that my hard work paid off."
Chan, fellow fencer Madeleine Fung, javelin thrower Roy Ng and diver Ong Sze En were among the national athletes who achieved straight As in the A-levels.
Sze En's twin Rei En, also a national diver and a Temasek Junior College student, scored seven As and two Bs.
While Chan, a SEA Games gold medallist, initially felt lost when competitions and training were impacted by the pandemic, she decided to make use of the time to focus on her studies.
She is hoping to read political science in the United States and is now focused on preparing for the May 12-23 SEA Games in Hanoi and qualifying for September's Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Ng, who holds the national Under-18 and U-20 javelin records, was both thrilled and relieved by his results owing to his struggles to balance studies and sport.
He said: "At certain times, I was stretching myself a bit and I was worried about whether I could perform, so to get this result is a relief and shows me my own limits."
After his prelim examinations last year, the RI student admitted that he felt burnt out due to a packed schedule of study and training.
Ng, 18, decided that it was best to take a breather and do things that he enjoyed such as reading.
While the pursuit of both is tough, Ng, who plans to read economics or business at a local university, said: "Being a student-athlete requires a lot of discipline. What drives me is not my performance, but the feeling of getting it right, going back to training and still doing the right things."
Likewise, Fung also acknowledged the challenges of being a student-athlete, which required her to sacrifice her social life by saying no to outings with friends when she had training or competitions over the weekend.
A typical week for the 18-year-old student from Hwa Chong Institution would be filled with club training (three times a week), national team training (two times) and sessions in school (three times).
"I know that a lot of people around me have given me a lot of support, especially my parents," said Fung, who will be reading geography at the University of Oxford.
"They have invested a lot in me so I can have a good education and attend training, so I don't want to let them down. I want to make my teachers and family proud."
Tips from student-athletes:
1. Time management is key
Denyse Chan: "It's the most important thing... plan ahead to understand where you are in the syllabus or what exam is coming up. Then you have to plan for the exams with competition and training schedules in one planning sheet so you can see the big picture."
2. Good support
Madeleine Fung: "Surround yourself with supportive people, especially teachers and friends who will help you."
3. Remember to take breaks
Roy Ng: "I toned down a bit on studying, paused training and gave myself more time to sleep and to do things that I wanted to do."