From Swimming Champion to Nurturing Future Generations in the Outdoors: Joscelin Yeo

Since closing the chapter on her illustrious swimming career, mother-of-four Joscelin Yeo has developed a passion for nurturing future generations manifested through an outdoor children's camp she calls "Into The Wild"

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Most 12-year-olds would be focused on their Primary School Leaving Examinations, but not for Joscelin Yeo. At that age, she represented Singapore in her first Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and brought back two silvers and a hat-trick of bronze medals.


For the rest of her 17-year-long career, Joscelin Yeo only won gold medals in the SEA games — a record of 40 — making her the most decorated gold-medal-winning athlete in the esteemed regional competition.


While some may have taken years to land on a career path, it was clear from the very beginning through the emotions it evoked in her that swimming was something she wanted to pursue.


"Every time I get into the water, I feel energised, I feel excited, I love the thrill of competing," said Joscelin.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


And if the joy she experienced while swimming was not indicative enough, the fact that she took to the sport like fish to water sealed the deal.


"I think for me just recognising that this is something I'm good at, and this isn't something everyone is good at—that made me decide this is something I really want to do."


Despite her indisputable success, her career as a competitive swimmer had its fair share of ups and downs.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


As is the life of professional athletes, Joscelin had to keep up with a gruelling training schedule which began in the early hours of the morning and picked up again in the evenings.


"There were many times where I was like: this is not for me — I'm so done, I'm too tired, I'm done waking up at 4.30 in the morning," she said.


Joscelin knew that sport at a highly competitive level required fierce dedication and commitment. So, when doubts arose, she would ask herself if that fighting spirit was still within her.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


For 17 years, Joscelin only had one answer to that question. "I still had that fire and I still had that drive. You keep making that choice over and over again to do it when you don't feel like it," she said.


Though Joscelin is grateful for the challenges that helped build her resilience over the years, she felt for the most part, she had to rely on herself and her family to overcome them.


"I think elite sport was really at its infancy when I was swimming," said Joscelin, "I think the availability of funding has increased massively to help the athletes today."

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


She cited media training and sports psychologists as examples of the greater pool of resources professional athletes now have access to, compared to the past.


"Sport is not so one dimensional," noted Joscelin, "elite athletes should make full use of [the resources they can access] because that's what sport requires right now.”


"I had to figure it out on my own, or my parents had to pay for it, or I had to find sponsors to pay for it," she added.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Since closing that chapter of her life, Joscelin has become a mother of four and developed a passion for nurturing future generations. This has manifested itself in the outdoor children's camp she currently runs called "Into The Wild".


"Sports and the outdoors has the capacity to teach kids the grit and resilience and the strength that you don’t necessarily get from other kinds of activities, "said Joscelin, emphasising these as key values children need as they grow up.


“For me, when I look back at my career, what I’ve taken away from sport isn’t the medals, it’s not the records, it’s not all that,” said Joscelin.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


“What I've taken from sport and what it has enabled me to do in my life after that has really been that mental strength, that resilience, that strength from within. To be able to deal with different personalities I have to work with, learning teamwork, learning how to deal with a situation that’s tough.


“And that’s something I wish to impart to the kids at the kids camps.”

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Even though her current occupation may not appear to be linked to her sporting career, Joscelin sees it as an extension of her role as an ex-national athlete, saying, “Being a national athlete comes with certain responsibilities that we have to society, that we have to the community, because people do look up to us, people do see us as role models.


“We are representing the country and it’s not something to take lightly. And I think that we can use everything that sport has taught us as well as the influence that we have to enable future generations, to enable whatever passions there might be."


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