We caught Jonathan Chong on a rare afternoon at home. The business major student is usually shuffling between school, work and canoe training. His well-built frame relaxes on the sky blue couch sofa as he stretches over for his favourite ‘SFO’ cushion. Say hi to Jonathan, the big friendly (and charming) giant.
Jonathan was relatively late to canoeing, having only started training at 17. Perhaps that’s what drives him to make the fullest use of his time, squeezing every bit of his youth and drive and walking the tight-rope between work, school and training. In between, he also keeps his sanity by having a social life, jet-setting and travelling, as well as spending time with his supportive family, friends (and books !?!)
Time management is critical for the achiever-go-getter, who jokingly shares that ‘time is just like a six-pack bod; squeeze hard enough and they will appear’. He also enjoys a flexible approach in his tight schedule and tries to ‘do the best with what he has’, although at times setting priorities and bearing with sacrifices is part and parcel of any dedicated athlete’s life.
Short of possessing superpowers and more hours in a day than others, Jonathan thinks the key behind his passion and drive is what he repeats to himself. “Never give up and chase your dreams. A great deal of sacrifice is inevitable, but it’ll be all worth it”
As a canoeing coach at Hwa Chong Institution (HCI), one of the powerhouses in the sport, the 25-year old is also passing on these lessons and training ethos to inspire the next generation of canoeists. His decision to return to his alma mater speaks of his Confucian-steeped education: to be grateful and always remember where his roots lay. So far his efforts seem to be paying off, with HCI ‘A’ Division Boys winning their 8th straight canoeing title in Apr 2017.
Looking back at his younger self, Jonathan is glad he has not left much room for personal regret. To him, that is the clearest reminder that he’s doing something right. That doesn’t include streaks of youthful craziness such as partying before championship races (yet somehow managing to pull through for a podium finish nonetheless!)
Throughout our interview, we can’t help but notice Jonathan’s soft-spoken demeanour hints at a closet introvert beneath his charismatic 1.78m muscular frame. He agrees that with age and moderation comes an increasing preference for more time to reflect and introspect. A cup of strong dark brew, a good read and a nice sofa. Pretty chill and laid back.
Jonathan will not be heading to the 2017 SEA Games as canoeing is not a participating sport. However, his training tempo has no intention of slowing as he works up towards his next…