National pole vaulter Ang Guo Jun's delicate balancing act
National pole vaulter wins gold in HK meet, but could not be at medal ceremony due to work
He won his first gold medal for Singapore at the Hong Kong Inter-City Athletics Championships last Sunday, but national pole vaulter Ang Guo Jun could not even attend the medal ceremony.
The 28-year-old had to leave the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground as soon as he finished his event to catch his flight home for work the next day.
Ang, who won the event after clearing 4.60m, told The New Paper that he was ecstatic about his win, even though he has not held the medal yet.
The senior associate deal adviser at auditing firm KPMG had been so busy with work that he has not even had time to collect his gold medal from teammate Joel Ho, who won the bronze with 4.45m.
"The Hong Kong competition was one of my best in terms of jumps," Ang said, adding that he has had fluctuating results in his last three meets this year.
"I'm ecstatic, of course, but also relieved."
The rush he experienced last weekend is a norm for Ang.
He spends the bulk of his time at the office, but squeezes in weight training during lunch breaks and after work. He is also given flexible working hours through the Program for Elite Athletes scheme at KPMG.
Weekends are spent training under ActiveSG's pole vault programme.
The work-training regimen started earlier this year, after he recovered from a full muscle tear in his right calf whose rehabilitation took six months.
Even though he is short of the national record of 5.01m set by Sean Lim in 2014, Ang is optimistic about his progress.
At the Singapore Athletics' Inter-Club Championships this weekend, he will be aiming to rewrite his personal best of 4.70m set in 2017, just a year after he returned to pole vault training under ActiveSG.
His coach David Yeo was pleased with Ang's win in Hong Kong as it showed that he is back on track.
"The competition at Hong Kong was not as steep but it shows he's back in the condition where he was two years ago," said Yeo, who has coached for 21 years.
But he believes it would be a challenge for Ang to meet the SEA Games qualifying mark of 5.25m.
Said Yeo: "He's very enthusiastic about training but there's the limitation of his work and that's something we've been working on."
To keep his dreams alive, Ang recently ordered four 4.75m poles from the United States. The poles, which are 15cm longer than the ones he uses, could help in his bid to improve. They cost him $1,000 each.
If Ang qualifies for the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games in the Philippines, he will join younger brother Ang Chen Xiang, 25, who holds the national 110m hurdles record.
The youngest brother, Ang Ding Hui, 23, a Level Two coach certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations, could also be at the Games as Chen Xiang's coach.