Thank you, mum: Singapore's athletes pay tribute to their No. 1 supporters on Mother's Day

(From left) National marathoner Soh Rui Yong as a child with his mother Tay Siew Lai and footballer Gabriel Quak with his mother Chow Juet May. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SOH RUI YONG, COURTESY OF GABRIEL QUAK

SINGAPORE - Behind the success of many athletes, lies an army of officials, coaches and team-mates. Yet, for most sportsmen and women, their start in sport begins at home.

Here, some of Singapore's finest athletes pay tribute to one of their most important pillars of support - their mums - ahead of Mother's Day (May 9).

Life lesson at 10

"When I was in Primary 4, my mum took me jogging at Bedok Reservoir. I had no form of training then and was unable to keep up with her... She didn't stop to wait for me, but encouraged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and (told me) that distance running was about consistent effort that would get us to the finish line.

"She finished the whole lap (4.3km) without stopping. That was something unfathomable to me at the time and I was inspired to do it myself too one day. I would say that was my first goal in distance running - to finish one lap at Bedok Reservoir without stopping, just like my mum."

- Two-time SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong, 29, on his mother, Tay Siew Lai, 59

Leap of faith

"When I was about five, doctors said my legs were weak. So, every day my mother would boil crocodile soup and frog leg soup to help build my strength. This went on for about one to two years.

"My legs have turned out to be my working tools."

- Lion City Sailors and national footballer Gabriel Quak, 30, on his mother Chow Juet May, 60

A corny tale

Fandi Ahmad (left) with his wife Wendy Jacobs and children (from right) Irfan, Ikhsan, Iman, Iryan and Ilhan on Dec 6, 2015. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

"My dad (Singapore legend Fandi Ahmad) is usually the main guy when it comes to football education for my brothers and I. But my mother also has a direct impact on how well I play.

"As I like to wear my boots tight, I'm prone to developing corns on my feet and sometimes these turn into painful blisters that may affect my play.

"Noticing this, my mum would take me for a pedicure once every month and we would do the treatments together. It sounds odd, but it is actually quite effective and a good way for us to bond as we spend time together talking as well."

- Young Lions footballer Ilhan Fandi Ahmad, 18, on his mother Wendy Jacobs, 47

Cook, chauffeur, companion

National swimmer Quah Ting Wen and her mother Anne. PHOTO: COURTESY OF QUAH TING WEN

"My secondary school friends never saw me in the canteen during lunchtime, because my mum would cook, drive to school, and sit in the car with me while I ate and took a short nap afterwards.

"I was on the 5.30am, 10-sessions-a-week schedule by then and exhausted all the time. She did this almost every day for four years, and I'm pretty sure she did the same for (siblings) Zheng and Jing too."

- Two-time Olympian and national swimmer Quah Ting Wen, 28, on her mother Anne Quah

A letter a day

Taekwondo exponent Chelsea Sim and her mother Gillian Ho. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHELSEA SIM

"When I was 18, my mother wrote letters for each day when I was away for my first overseas training stint (in Korea for two months), as it was the longest time we were away from each other. For my next overseas training stint in Korea to prepare for the 2015 SEA Games, my mother put her own plans on hold and accompanied me for about two weeks."

- National taekwondo exponent Chelsea Sim, 25, on her mother Gillian Ho, 55

Rooted in self-belief

National triathlete Emma Middleditch's mother Josiane sending her off at Changi Airport. PHOTO: COURTESY OF EMMA MIDDLEDITCH

"If I have a competition overseas that she cannot come along to, she will write me a little note for me to take with me. A little note to tell me to believe in myself, that I can do it, that she will be rooting for me even if she can't physically be there.

"Although these are just words, they go a long way... they reassure me, knowing that she's thinking of me, even though we're so far apart, and they give me confidence and strength to perform my best."

- National triathlete Emma Middleditch, 19, on her mother Josiane

Support at all hours

National men's floorball team vice-captain Kumaresa Pasupathy (left) with his twin and teammate Vignesa and his mother Sreenivasan Jayandi. PHOTO: COURTESY OF KUMARESA PASUPATHY

"Even when we finish training late and reach home at 11pm/12am, she will stay up and wait for us to come home. She will ensure we have a good meal, looking out to include extra protein and vegetables so we have a balanced diet. She also prepares fruit cups for us throughout the week. Sometimes we come home and spend 30 to 60 minutes sharing our floorball experiences and she will listen patiently and give us her input and thoughts."

- National floorball twins Kumaresa and Vignesa Pasupathy, 25, on their mother Sreenivasan Jayandi, 65

It's all down to ibu

National silat exponent and 2019 Sportsboy of the Year Hazim Yusli as a child with his mother Roshidah Abdul Wahab. PHOTO: COURTESY OF HAZIM YUSLI

"She's the woman behind my success. She'll make sure everything I need is ready. She'll prepare my competition gear, iron my uniform and if I am on diet, she'll prepare diet meals specifically for me.

"No matter how tired she is, she'll always make sure everything is okay for me. Thank you ibu for being the best mother ever."

- Pencak silat athlete and 2019 Sportsboy of the Year Hazim Yusli on his mother, Roshidah Abdul Wahab, 50

Gestures you don't forget

Anders Aplin and his mother Tan Siok Choo. PHOTO: ANDERS APLIN

"My mother is my biggest fan and she's never been afraid to show it. During my matches, she is always the loudest in the stands and I can hear her even when I'm playing.

"She's always looking out for me and these days, my team train at 7am in the morning and yet, she insists on preparing breakfast for me before I head out for training.

"These are the gestures you don't forget."

- Anders Aplin, 29, Hougang United defender on his mother Tan Siok Choo, 57

You're my rock

National jiu-jitsu athlete Constance Lien with her mother Yuen Shuang Ching. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CONSTANCE LIEN

"Momma, you're my rock, heart and soul. Thank you for the sacrifices that you have made for me.

"Thank you for working so hard just to give me the very best.

"Thank you for being you, momma. All that I am, I got it from you."

- National jiu-jitsu athlete Constance Lien, 21, on her mother, Yuen Shuang Ching, 52

Wonder woman

Footballer Danelle Tan and mother, Dawn Tan. PHOTO: DANELLE TAN

"A while ago, I fractured my ankle during training... My mum was always at my side getting me anything I needed, standing behind me whenever I went up the stairs with my crutches so that she could catch me if I fell. She even had to help me shower because I couldn't get the cast wet.

"Through the smiles and the tears, my mum has always been there for me. That's why her contact name on my phone is Wonder Woman. Because she truly is the superhero in my life, the one who gives freely, without ever expecting something back."

- Singapore women's national footballer Danelle Tan, 16, on her mother Dawn Tan, 46

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.