Cheyenne Goh

Skating: Singapore's first Winter Olympian Cheyenne Goh is ST's Athlete of the Month

Cheyenne Goh, with ST sports editor Lee Yulin (left) and F&N Foods general manager Jennifer See, proudly holding her trophy and hamper for being the ST Star of the Month for November. She qualified for the Winter Games mainly on the strength of her 2
Cheyenne Goh, with ST sports editor Lee Yulin (left) and F&N Foods general manager Jennifer See, proudly holding her trophy and hamper for being the ST Star of the Month for November. She qualified for the Winter Games mainly on the strength of her 20th place at the Shanghai World Cup meeting.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Australian's unlikely 2002 win serves as inspiration for S'pore's 1st Winter Olympian

One of the most unexpected Winter Olympic champions in history, Steven Bradbury's victory at the 2002 Games has earned him a place in history and in Urban Dictionary - a Bradbury is defined as "an improbable victory attained by default".

After all, the Australian short track speed skater took gold in the 1,000m in Salt Lake City after his four leading competitors crashed into one another, and he was the last man standing.

To Singaporean short track speed skater Cheyenne Goh, however, Bradbury's success story is an inspiration.

"He'd been working hard in the sport for many years, so it's not like it came out of thin air - it just shows anything can happen and, if you work hard sometimes, opportunities will come up that you can take," said the 18-year-old.

"He was the first Australian to win a (winter) gold medal and he was an underdog, so he shows that there's hope for everybody."

That includes Goh herself, who knows she, too, will be an underdog at the Feb 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, where Singapore will be represented for the first time.

The teenager, who will compete in the 1,500m, added: "I'm definitely pretty outclassed when I go there, so I think I'm just really excited to have the experience of being at the biggest winter sporting event in the world.

"I just want to do as well as I can, improve as much as I can in the next two months leading up to it and, when I'm there, just enjoy the experience."

She earned her spot after competing in the four legs of the International Skating Union World Cup Short Track Speed Skating from September to last month, which were qualifying competitions for the Winter Games.

For her achievement, Goh is The Straits Times' Star of the Month for November.

The award is an extension of ST's Athlete of the Year award, launched in 2008. Both awards are backed by F&N's 100 Plus.

Said ST sports editor Lee Yulin: "Singapore is indebted to this teenager for putting us where we've never been before - at the pinnacle of winter sport.

"She - and we - may not have lofty expectations of her outing in Pyeongchang but just being there is already a huge achievement. And we congratulate her for it."

SUCCESS DESPITE LONG ODDS

It shows that it doesn't really matter where you come from. If you put in effort and you just give it a shot... anything could happen.

CHEYENNE GOH, on her unlikely participation at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.

Goh, whose love of speed extends to her proficiency in Mario Kart (a video game), moved to Canada at age four owing to her accountant parents' work commitments, and recently completed her high-school education at Leduc Composite High School in Alberta.

Her first brush with ice skating took place at a public rink in Quebec when she was about four years old, and she did not want to use a skating aid.

She recalled: "I know my (older) brother skated the whole time with that little thing (a skating aid) to balance himself, but I didn't want to.

"I thought it'd be more fun to do it without. I probably fell, but I don't remember much about that."

She played nine seasons of ice hockey with the Leduc Minor Hockey Association before eventually realising it was the skating aspect of the sport she enjoyed more.

Thirteen years later, she has made history for her country - a feat that has led to congratulations from many and resulted in her younger brother, a 15-year-old track cyclist, feeling "pressured to make it to the Olympics as well".

Added Goh, who is ranked 37th in the world in the 1,500m: "I think he has something to work towards, so that's good."

While the significance of her achievement still has not sunk in, she hopes it will encourage others.

"It shows that it doesn't really matter where you come from. If you put in effort and you just give it a shot... anything could happen," she said.

Bradbury would probably agree.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2017, with the headline 'Underdog to enjoy games outing'. Print Edition | Subscribe