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Reynold Chan eyes SEA Games medal after four-year hiatus

Hit by a storm of falling grades, his coach’s departure and a goal-less future, windsurfer Reynold Chan decided to call it quits in 2019.

But at the back of his mind, the former SEA Games and Asian Games competitor knew that he would ride the waves again.

That time came in 2023, after he graduated from Temasek Polytechnic and completed his national service. He then joined the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) windsurfing club.

After a four-year hiatus, he finally got back on a board and on the waters off East Coast Park, his old haunt from his days as a national windsurfer last August.

“My first thought was ‘Yes! I still got it!’. At the back of my mind I thought that maybe I wouldn’t know how to windsurf any more,” said the 24-year-old.

Six months later, Chan, who now competes in the Windsurfer LT class, finished first out of seven competitors in the men’s division at the 43rd Singapore Open Windsurfing and Foiling Championships in February.

He said: “To be honest, I took part mainly for fun, to enjoy, to race among the LT class. Part of it was also ‘If I can win, I will just try’.

“Of course, when you take part in competitive sports, your main goal is to try to win something. My goal aside from that was to enjoy myself.”

After that result, his competitors from Constant Wind Sea Sports and Sailing School invited him to race with them at the European Windsurfer Championships in Italy from June 11-16.

His European outing at Lake Garda did not go smoothly at first, as he fell in his first race and dropped to fourth in the lightweight category.

But he regained his confidence for the next few races, noting that he “sort of knew that I could fight with the rest of them”.

That mindset paid off, with his consistent performances seeing him finish second overall out of 46 windsurfers from all over the world.

His sporting results also come in tandem with his academic success. Making it to university freed him up to compete. The flexible academic schedule also allows him to better manage his time between studies and training.

Now, Chan is eyeing a spot at the 2025 SEA Games. He last competed in the biennial event in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.

He plans to compete in a test event in Thailand at the end of 2024 and will work with the national coach ahead of the Games.

Windsurfing Association Singapore president Lemmy Teo said: “This (recent result) demonstrates his fast adaptability, acute sense of responding to wind variability and competitive spirit.

“Such qualities and his good results at the championship augurs well for this young man who is now also training for the SEA Games.”

Chan is careful not to put too much pressure on himself, but with factors like good grades, a coach and a goal now in place, he admitted that the thought of a medal has crossed his mind.

He added: “Ultimately, I will try for a podium finish.

“If one were to go for a major Games, ideally they will aim for (a medal).”