SINGAPORE: In the absence of context, taking note of Ben Tan talk would possibly lead you to conclude he is a masochist.
The president of the Singapore Sailing Federation believes firmly in the electricity of trouble.
“I am probably in totally soft surroundings, but I create the hassle for myself. Hardship affords drive. If I’ve got money to spend on lunch, doesn’t mean I’ve were given to spend it. I faux that I’m terrible. I fake that I can’t afford a better boat. I make do with vintage sails. I push myself. So I create that hardship because that ultimately makes me stronger.”
This is one of the keys to his fulfillment as an Asian Games and 4-time consecutive Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Gold medalist.
Dr. Tan is likewise a Hall-of-Famer and 3-time Singapore Sportsman of the Year.
After competing in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, he retired from competitive cruising.
He now kiteboards and runs marathons recreationally. He has competed in greater than 20 marathons thus far, along with all six World Marathon Majors and is also an ordinary scuba diver and (snow) skier.
Aside from excelling in the sporting international, he also made it a part of his lifestyles’ paintings to excel in the remedy.
He is Chief of Sports Medicine at Changi General Hospital. He shows up for this interview looking the component, sporting a white shirt and tie and points out he has an appointment with a patient straight after.
His motives for going into medicinal drug are rooted in his early publicity to sailing.
“A lot of humans anticipate I went into remedy because anyone near me had an unlucky dying and I felt that I needed to move into a medicinal drug to store lives. But my story is totally special. I needed to find out about aerodynamics, meteorology, hydrodynamics, and so forth. To be correct at sailing and my physics have become certainly desirable. I knew that I become oriented towards the sciences. When it came to choosing a university course, I basically chose the one with the most sciences – remedy.”
He appears pleased with the fact that he’s naturally very common sense-oriented.
“That’s just the way my brain works and medication, gave me that project. Why might a tennis elbow take goodbye to heal? What’s the physiology at the back of it? What’s the pathology at the back of it?”
How he managed to attain all this has been defined as splendid by way of a few in the sports activities fraternity.
It required almost surgical compartmentalization and forgoing amusement or even rest for many years of his lifestyles.
While he was in clinical faculty, it changed into the norm for him to weight, class, then train each day till 10 pm. This would depart little time for his research, but he made up for it through staying up till 2 am.
“Talent is something you may do anything about. I appreciate my warring parties and always anticipate that they’re more talented. Therefore I’ve got to compensate for more hours and more efficiency.”
“I kept logbooks. I could squeeze each minute out of that schooling time. Medicine, in reality, made me a better sailor as it pressured me to educate effectively. The other way is real also. Sailing compelled me to be a higher doctor.”
He claims it also helped him develop the discipline to do well in faculty in widespread. From nearly failing his PSLE, he made it to one of the top JCs in Singapore due to it.
CHOOSING THE HARD LIFE
His father becomes a leisure sailor and his effect, no question, had a part to play in his sailing career but ultimately it changed into Dr. Tan’s choice.
“I wanted a game that could increase the mind and the physique. Sailing isn’t pure endurance, it’s now not natural electricity, it’s now not pure anaerobic, it’s a balance of all the bodily attributes. At the equal time, the intellectual elements are very outstanding. It’s like playing chess. You’ve got so many pieces on the board and it’s more complicated due to the fact the portions are transferring – your opponents, the wind direction.”
As he talks approximately selecting the difficult lifestyles to build individual and analyze instructions, his sense of feat and pleasure is palpable.
“I chose the tough lifestyles. I selected to sleep a lot much less. I chose to surrender on the social scene. I went on my first date very late in existence, most effective in university.
“Only because I become very target-oriented. If I desired something, I would calculate what I needed to do to get it and make the one’s sacrifices.”
His choice to retire from aggressive sailing after the 1996 Olympics looks as if an end result of careful calculation too.
“In the first a part of my existence, sailing took the first precedence and medication had to “wait” patiently. But medicinal drug couldn’t wait all the time, and it turns to move up to the front of the queue came after the 1996 Olympics. If the medicinal drug had waited any longer, I could now not were capable of capture up with my clinical friends in terms of profession route.”
“I WAS GREEDY”
I ask him if he ever wished he ought to have sailed full-time.
“No, I become greedy. I truly desired both – sailing and to be a medical doctor. I didn’t do it out of necessity as an again-up career,” he says in all seriousness.
While some athletes say they yearn to pursue their sport on a full-time basis and want they’d the price range to accomplish that while not having to preserve down every other process, Dr. Tan feels otherwise.
“It can’t be convenient to be on the top of the pyramid. There is suffering involved. There are sacrifices concerned and whoever is inclined to make the one’s sacrifices will be the only up there.”
However, lots of his worldwide rivals make those sacrifices in complete-time pursuit of their game.
Doesn’t that place the likes of him at a clear downside in phrases of overall performance?
“But am I going to attend until the world becomes honest? Or am I going to simply accept it and paintings round it?”
He adopted the equal method of National Service, working around it to make sure that his bodily schooling endured.
“Of route I couldn’t be on the water, however, something that I ought to do on the dry land become schooling. So while it changed into lighting fixtures-out after supper and all and sundry become in bed, I got permission to run across the parade rectangular to do my conditioning.”
But doesn’t he ever reflect consideration on the opportunity that complete-time devotion to his game would have helped him sincerely win an Olympic medal?
His answer is an express “no”.
“For me, it’s about the holistic issue, the complete existence. The last aim was now not to be an Olympic gold medalist. The closing intention was to be a higher individual. Sailing changed into just a street towards that. Medicine is likewise a street towards that.”