Twin gymnasts master balancing act
Besides being talented athletes, they are also top scorers at school
Twins Michele Petrova Lau Xin Ling and Phebe Meredith Lau Zhi Ling have both been in gymnastics since their early days at Marymount Convent School.
Michele joined the school team when she was seven, and her sister joined her the following year. At just eight years old, both got into the national high performance training squad.
Last Friday, the 18-year-olds ranked among the top scorers from the Singapore Sports School in the International Baccalaureate diploma exams.
To her surprise, Michele achieved the highest score in her school - 44 points.
"I thought that 43 would be the highest that I could go," she said.
Phebe also did well, scoring 42 points, which made her one of the top five students in the school.
When asked how they managed to juggle both their commitments to gymnastics and their studies, the pair agreed that it all boiled down to time management and discipline.
"We were usually very busy, so we had to use whatever free time we had to study," said Phebe.
Last year, besides school, the two had to juggle training with their aesthetic group gymnastics (AGG) team and coaching the new generation of rhythmic gymnasts.
The twins had been rhythmic gymnasts for 10 years, but gave up the sport in 2018 due to injuries. That year, they discovered AGG, a new sport in Singapore, and joined the pioneer team here.
"We were so amazed by the sport - it is so beautiful," said Phebe.
AGG allowed them to tap on their previous training in rhythmic gymnastics while being more gentle on the body.
The sisters have had a tough schedule for a long time.
After school, they would go for rhythmic gymnastics training from 4pm to 8pm. They would then have tuition at home from 9pm to 11pm.
"After that, we do our homework before going to sleep and waking up at 6am the next day to catch the school bus," said Phebe.
Ultimately, the hard work paid off, with both representing Singapore in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2017 SEA Games at 16, making them the youngest on the team.
This year, the two plan to focus on three things: AGG, coaching and applying for university. Both have National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University in mind.
The sisters became rhythmic gymnastics coaches to help develop the sport in Singapore. Their young charges range from four to 14 years old.
"We enjoy it a lot as we both like kids," said Michele, adding that coaching has also helped them become financially independent.
"We have not taken any pocket money from our parents since we were 17."