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Between nursing shifts, a Singapore rower skilled for the Olympics.



As lots of her opponents spent their days getting ready for the Olympics, Joan Poh spent a lot of the previous yr working lengthy shifts at a Singapore hospital.

Ms. Poh, a 30-year-old rower who will characterize Singapore on the Tokyo Video games, had been coaching and competing full time. However she put that on maintain in April of final yr when she returned to her job as a nurse after the federal government put out a name for frontline medical reinforcements.

“In a time of pandemic, going again to work felt like a calling,” she mentioned. “Once I’m at work, I’m one hundred pc a nurse. Once I’m coaching, I’m one hundred pc a rower. It’s at all times about discovering that steadiness and making it work.”

After resuming eight- to 10-hour hospital shifts within the renal unit at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Ms. Poh sought methods to proceed to coach. She squeezed in exercises earlier than and after work, typically skipping meals. To make up for misplaced time, she would spend her total weekend on the water.

Although Ms. Poh didn’t work in a Covid ward, she was one in every of a handful of specifically skilled dialysis nurses on the hospital. She typically needed to deal with sufferers suspected of getting the coronavirus and feared she may contract it herself.

Ms. Poh may even need to be on guard in opposition to the virus at this yr’s Video games, that are in contrast to every other as organizers attempt to decrease the chance of transmission. Spectators shall be barred from most occasions, and athletes are discouraged from giving hugs, high-fives and handshakes. Out of about 20,000 individuals touring to Japan for the Video games, dozens have examined optimistic for the virus, together with three individuals contained in the athletes’ village.

However as a nurse, Ms. Poh plans to take precautions. Her supervisor, Koh Yu Han, mentioned that regardless of attracting stares, they each make some extent of wiping down gear and tables. They carry their backpacks always to keep away from placing them down and turning into contaminated. When touring to a qualifying race in Tokyo in Might, Ms. Koh mentioned, she and Ms. Poh have been the one passengers on a bus stuffed with athletes to sanitize their seats with alcohol.

Simply 23 athletes will characterize Singapore on the Olympics this yr, and Ms. Poh is the one feminine rower. She is just the second Singaporean rower to succeed in the Olympics, inserting twelfth within the qualifying regatta.

Her occasion, girls’s single sculls, will happen on Friday.

Ms. Poh didn’t first get into a ship till she was a young person, however shortly fell in love with being on the water. Her dad and mom couldn’t afford sports activities leagues or skilled teaching, however she nonetheless discovered methods to observe.

She joined a dragon boat group when she was 17, honing her paddling abilities on a standard lengthy boat earlier than studying methods to sail and row a scull. In 2019, she took an prolonged go away from her hospital job with a purpose to prepare and compete full time in Australia.

The previous yr, splitting time between the health club and the hospital, she mentioned, solely elevated her drive.

“I understood from once I was younger that sport is a luxurious,” she mentioned. “To have the ability to pursue your dream is a luxurious. And subsequently, when you can, then you could.”


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