Sailor Victoria Chan bags bronze as she makes her return at the Asian Games
NINGBO – Having nowhere to go during the pandemic was inadvertently what led to sailor Victoria Chan rediscovering her love for the sport.
Getting back onto the water was the first step before she eventually returned to the competitive scene, making her Asian Games debut in Ningbo this week, nearly four years after her last major regatta – the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.
The 32-year-old showed she still has the wind behind her sails as she clinched a bronze medal after finishing third in the ILCA 6.
Chan, who works at PAssion Wave @ Marina Bay, said: “I’m really happy and quite thankful for my company for giving me time off to train and the support with my colleagues taking over my duties.
“I’m really excited to come back and beat some Olympians along the way so it’s quite reassuring that the Singapore sailing system is quite good.”
Prior to Wednesday’s medal race, Chan was third in the standings with 38 net points, just one behind Hong Kong’s Stephanie Norton, giving her a realistic shot at either the bronze or silver medal.
Malaysian Nur Shazrin Mohamad Latif had built an unassailable lead and sat comfortably at the top with 25 points.
But all races were cancelled due to poor weather conditions, leaving Chan, who was already out on the waters off Xiangshan Sailing Centre in Ningbo, with mixed feelings.
The bronze was hers but she would have liked the chance to complete the medal race. The former world champion in the youth Laser 4.7 class was nevertheless pleased with how the competition turned out.
She said: “It was quite nerve-racking... Obviously we would want to have another race because we were just one point away from Hong Kong for second.
“But this is what sailing is about, you are always waiting for the wind to come in – sometimes it could be in your favour, sometimes it’s not – but a medal is good enough for Singapore.”
This is her second comeback in the sport. After the 2015 SEA Games on home soil, she took a break from sailing to undergo surgery on a long-standing ligament injury in her left wrist.
The 2011 SEA Games champion then returned for the 2019 edition before stepping away from sailing.
She believes the break was good for her, saying: “Having taken a break was a good thing mentally to have no pressure coming into this event, especially since it was Olympic qualification.
“So it was just about being relaxed, focusing on the processes and then having a good outcome.”
But it was not easy. Chan was mainly training by herself without a coach, coming up with her own programme to prepare for the Games in China.
To help with this, she would come up with a checklist and have a game plan every time she went for training “so it’s not a wasted session”.
Making her competitive return at the Asiad has allowed Chan to reunite with familiar faces.
While it has been an enjoyable experience, she is still undecided about her future.
She said: “It’s been a good showing for the whole Singapore team.
“We had really good team spirit and everyone supporting each other, that actually is what these kinds of Games are about – coming here to enjoy the experience...
“I’m not part of the national team so this is the end for me, but who knows? Anything can happen.”