SEA Games 2015 Blog

Life at Deloitte

SEA Games 2015 Blog

Finding the extraordinary

This blog tells the stories of our people who are on the SEA Games 2015 journey. From the management team, to organizing committee, volunteers, and our athletes, each one of them will walk a different path but ultimately it will converge towards a common goal – one of pride and glory, with dreams in hand.

12 June 2015

Sharmaine’s Story
Sharmaine Cheung
Audit Associate & Team Singapore fencer

My Team Singapore fencing team’s SEA Games journey concluded on 7 June 2015 with the Women’s Sabre team bringing home the bronze medal. It was a proud moment for me, knowing that I have done my best for my country.
The prelude to my fencing story tells almost nothing about the sport that is now an integral part of my life. In fact, fencing was not on my list of known sports, until eight years ago.

My sporting career started with me being selected into the track and field team in secondary school. I had thought that I would go a long way in track and field, but as fate would have it, it was short-lived. An exacerbating ankle injury forced me out. As the injury prevented me from training for a year, I was unable to re-join the team even though I had recovered. As it turned out, it was a blessing in disguise!

It seemed like providence that I chanced upon a fencing salle (club) during that period and learnt about fencing – the sport of sword fighting. Intrigued, I delved deeper into its world, entering as a neophyte, thrust into a club with experienced fencers.

As I worked hard to find my footing in the sport, I made many close friends – like-minded and motivated fencers that spurred me to excel even though I was inexperienced. On weekends and during the holidays, we would spend hours at the salle, jumping at the opportunity to spar whenever there was an unoccupied fencing piste (playing area).

Less than a year later, I participated in my first competition - the National Inter-school Championships - earning myself a bronze medal. It was the first milestone in my fencing journey and the beginning of greater things.

Whenever I tell people that I am a fencer, they will tend to assume a poking action. While that may not be completely wrong, there are actually 3 weapons in fencing: epee, foil, and sabre. The poke is used for epee and foil but for sabre, the slashing movement is more commonly used. The weapons also differ in their target areas and rules. At the professional level, fencers will usually specialise in only one weapon. My speciality is the sabre.

My passion for the sport stems from the fact that there is more to fencing than meets the eye. Both physical fitness and mental dexterity are essential in a fencing bout. A fine balance of distance, speed, and timing is key. The ability to initiate attacks, anticipate opponents’ moves, and respond with quick reflexes is also crucial. As such, fencing has been nicknamed physical chess.

The 28th SEA Games, being the first for me, is particularly significant. Although a biannual event, it is only the second time in eight years that the sport is featured in the Games. In 2011, I had failed to make the team after an upset during a determining competition and I was extremely disappointed.

It has always been my dream to represent Singapore in major games. I wanted the SEA Games experience – one that I knew would be very different from the other competitions I have been in, like the Fencing World Cups and World Championships. Furthermore, this edition is held on home ground, so I was determined to have a shot at it.

The road to qualifying for the SEA Games was tough – there were six of us vying for four spots, and I travelled to a different city every month for competitions to earn my spot. During this period, I had to sacrifice my time in school and studied for my exams on the plane. But when I achieved an Individual eighth and Team Silver at the Commonwealth Championships in November last year and qualified for the SEA Games, I felt that all the sacrifices were well worth it!

I could not have done it without the support of the people close to me. Also, I am extremely thankful for the support from Deloitte - from giving me time off for overseas competitions during my internship in Summer 2013, granting me leave from work to pursue my dreams, and involving me in Deloitte-SEA Games activities. I had the opportunity to meet other Deloitte athletes at the send-off party held a couple of weeks before the Games and felt the strong sense of camaraderie. It heartens me to see everyone in Deloitte coming together for the Games and I am proud to be part of the Deloitte family.

It has been a privilege for me to be an athlete at the 28th SEA Games, competing with the cheers of my family, friends and colleagues around me. I hope that my performance and story are an inspiration to other young athletes – to always press on and stay true to their dreams.


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