SINGAPORE - Singapore's first SEA Games winter sports champion Yu Shuran has retired from competitive figure skating at age 17 due to medical reasons.
Reflecting on her career in an impassioned Facebook post on Wednesday (June 13), the Beijing-based teenager revealed that she had made a trip to Los Angeles in January and trained there for a week.
Upon returning to Beijing, she fell sick and had to be hospitalised, after which she was diagnosed with a neurological disorder. The treatment was effective, although she is still recovering.
Shuran wrote in her post: "However, as my health got better, one thing did not change: I was told that I would have to give up my life as an athlete. I did get second opinions, but it was never what I wanted to hear."
Describing how she "did everything except to accept it", she added: "Everything I did became an opportunity to distract myself from the absolute devastation, but this type of reckless abandonment is not what competition has taught me.
"I finally had the difficult conversation with my federation, and as of now I am officially retired from competitive skating."
Shuran won gold at last year's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, the first time winter sports featured at the biennial Games.
She also last year became the first Singaporean to qualify for the World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki in March 2017.
She told The Straits Times on Thursday: "Representing Singapore has been an absolute honour... At the SEA Games, from the start of the short program to the awards ceremony, the support from the crowd as well as the skating community and supporters in Singapore was overwhelming.
"Skating has brought me some incredibly difficult challenges. I had no idea how it would force me to grow in so many ways but it has always been worth it. I want to say to all young athletes that I know there are times when you may be exhausted, or in a lot of pain, or burnt out and questioning all your sacrifices, but I promise that each and every challenge can be conquered.
"I am not sure yet the exact ways I can continue to be a part of this sport but I know that I want to contribute as much as possible for as long as possible. Being an athlete has been all I've ever known but I'm excited for the opportunity to take on other roles. I would love to help out kids back in Singapore to develop their talent.
"Unfortunately, I have not been on the ice since I got sick but I plan to try skating again very soon. I am not sure what I will be able to handle, but if possible, I would love to coach."
Singapore Ice Skating Association president Sonja Chong said: "With all that she has achieved, Shuran has contributed significantly to shape figure skating in Singapore. She has certainly helped establish a place for winter sports in Singapore and the region, and has the potential to do so much more.
"So we were really dismayed when she had to retire from competitive ice skating due to medical reasons. But she has committed to remain in the sport in another role, possibly as coach and mentor to our young skaters.
"We are working out the schedule with her and are confident that she will remain a huge inspiration to young athletes."