My name is John Cheah. I work as a floor manager and Personal Trainer at Level, a gym in Singapore, and I’m trying to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
I started weightlifting at the age of 23, after a 6 year career as a physical theatre performer and dancer. Over the past 5 years, I’ve broken all the national weightlifting records in the old under- 85kg and under-94kg weight categories, as well as establishing myself as the top Singaporean weightlifter (by Sinclair score) in 2019.
For those of you who don’t know the situation of the sport of weightlifting in Singapore, we’ve gone into a bit of a slumber after our heyday in the 1950s and 60s (we won Singapore’s first olympic medal in Rome 1960), and we now exist on minimal funding from the government. As it stands, all our weightlifting national athletes receive no form of monetary stipend from the government, no access to rehabilitation facilities and no access to medical healthcare— care that is provided to most other national teams in Singapore.
Despite that, we’ve managed to soldier on, pooling our limited resources into two or three of our best, sending them internationally to gain competition exposure in the hope that from their return, we grow our desire and competency to reach the world stage bit by bit.
In the recent change to the Olympic qualification standards by the International Weightlifting Federation, (https://www.iwf.net/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2018/04/FINAL-2018-03-29-Tokyo-2020-Qualification-System-Weightlifting.pdf), we now have the hope of sending a wild card through to the finals in Tokyo next year. The first step to qualifying is by completing a Gold level event, in this case the Asian Weightlifting Championship, from the 18th to 30th of April 2019.
Asia is home to some of the best weightlifters in the world, including the Japanese, Korean, Uzbek and Chinese team, and much closer to us, the Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese team, some of whom have recently set new youth world records and won world championships. We’re not on that level— yet.
The Asian Weightlifting Championship will be populated by these world class athletes, and simply attending will give us a new insight into competition on a global scale. Even better, it’s a qualifier in the books; a step to getting to Tokyo 2020.
Here’s the catch. It’s not cheap to get there, and the administrative costs of bringing a team is worse. Every dollar spent adds a piece to the puzzle; we don’t want to rock up with our pants down, we want to give our best.
The money you contribute will go towards the necessities of airfare, accommodation and food, all of which bring the bill up sizeably, but beyond that, the reason for the $9846 price tag on this trip takes into account the cost to bring my coach up with me (I’ll be travelling solo otherwise), as well as the other miscellaneous costs including therapy post training (which costs a bomb). This amount in Singapore dollars is converted from US dollars, the currency that we’ll be using for transactions with the International Weightlifting Federation.
Should the money keep growing beyond what I’ve listed here, the excess funds will be channelled into the development of younger athletes in the National weightlifting team development wing— they’re the best chance for us to eventually reach a level of proficiency to be supported by the Singapore government on a regular basis.
Thank you for reading this, and thank you for your generous support. This outing is part of something much bigger than myself— it’s hope for the future of this sport in Singapore, and putting a price tag on hope is a lot harder.