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Thrown off a Horse, Shermaine Tung is back to compete at Australian Modern Pentathlon Nationals

Encouraged by Singapore Sports School staff and her mother in 2009, this former Sports School Shooting Academy student athlete now represents Singapore in Modern Pentathlon - a sport of five disciplines

2019 SEA Games medalist Shermaine Tung will compete at the Australian Modern Pentathlon Nationals in Melbourne, with Modern Pentathlon not featuring at the Vietnam SEA Games. PHOTO: SHERMAINE TUNG

Recovering from a spinal surgery after being thrown off a horse during a training session, Singapore modern pentathlete Shermaine Tung is remaining positive as she prepares herself for her next competition in Melbourne.

For most of us, competing in one (sports) event is hard enough as it is. Tung however, represents Singapore in not just one but five diverse sports in the Modern Pentathlon.

The Modern Pentathlon is a 5-discipline sport consisting of equestrian show jumping, fencing, swimming and the laser run (cross-country running and pistol shooting).

Shermaine Tung remains upbeat in spite of her recent spinal injury and is raring to make a return to competitive action. PHOTO: SHERMAINE TUNG

After the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, it was decided that equestrian show jumping would be removed from the Games after the Paris 2024 edition and replaced with another sport.

Journey into Modern Pentathlon

Tung’s journey in the sport began in 2009 when the Singapore Modern Pentathlon Association was conducting a recruitment drive at her school. She was then a student athlete at the Singapore Sports School’s shooting academy.

With a little encouragement from the staff at Sports School and her mother, she gathered the courage to try out something completely new.

Shermaine Tung won her first SEA Games medal at the last Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines in 2019. PHOTO: SHERMAINE TUNG

Tung is able to conduct most of her training at the Singapore Sports School and does riding at the National Equestrian Centre. Her weekly training schedule allocates time for each sport which includes swimming three times a week, running four times a week, fencing twice a week, to name a few.

It is no surprise that a sport as demanding as this comes with its own set of challenges. For Tung, the most challenging things are the financial costs of training and competitions, and the high risk of injury.

“Modern Pentathlon is a sport dominated by Europe and most competitions are based in countries far away from home. To clock in competition experience and results, we usually have to set aside an average of five thousand dollars for one competition.”

“Training is also self-funded and horse riding is not the pocket-friendliest sport to learn.”

“In addition, horse riding comes with great risk of injury. Just recently, I was thrown off a horse and had to undergo surgery for my spine.”

Shermaine Tung has a love for horses, despite an injury that required to undergo spinal surgery after falling off a horse in training. PHOTO: SHERMAINE TUNG

In 2019, Tung won Singapore’s first SEA Games medal for the Modern Pentathlon and recalls this experience along with finishing in podium position at the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) world championship in the triathle event as two key highlights of her career so far.

“Winning medals is definitely something to pat yourself on the back for and be content about, but knowing it’s the first medal for the sport, hits different.”

Unfortunately, Modern Pentathlon is not set to be featured in the upcoming SEA Games in Vietnam. However, Tung will instead be competing in the upcoming Australian Modern Pentathlon Nationals, held in Melbourne.

This being her first competition overseas since the pandemic whilst still battling recovery from her recent surgery, Tung is cautiously optimistic and hopes to be able to perform within expectations.

Family means everything - Shermaine Tung with her mother and sister. PHOTO: SHERMAINE TUNG

Tung describes the diversity of her sport as one of the main factors that keeps her motivated. Support from her sport-supportive family and partner also keeps her going.

Between her busy training schedule, Tung tries to find time for another thing she enjoys, which is creating content. Her content focuses on topics such as fitness, sports, health and occasionally, beauty.

“The one thing that makes me happy is when people tell me they get inspired by my content. Hopefully after that, they lead a healthier lifestyle, and that’s a win-win.”

You can follow her journey and show your support for Shermaine via her socials on TikTok or Instagram.


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