All that love with no gold to show

  • Gymnastics
  • Saturday, 18 Jan 2020

PETALING JAYA: National gymnast Chau Jern Rong (pic) received a lot of love at the 2019 SEA Games. Throughout the Games, he was all smiles as he was “chased” by a bevy of Filipinos for selfies.

Under the smiles, though, he came back with deep disappointment. A dislocated knee meant he had to pull out and could only cheer on his teammates Zul Bahrin Mat Asri, Tan Fu Jie and Jeremiah Loh Phay Xiang.

Fu Jie won a gold medal in the pommel horse and Jern Rong was disappointed that he was not able to deliver another gold for the nation. He now has his eyes on next year’s Games in Vietnam.

The year 2019 proved to be an emotional roller coaster for the 21-year-old, as he had to endure lots of personal pain.

“It was not a great year for me. My father (Chau Kin Cheng) was hospitalised for a few months due to a heart valve replacement and also a bypass. I was not in the right state of mind, ” said Jern Rong.

“During his time in the hospital, I was preparing for the SEA Games. Two months before flying to Manila, he recovered, and I was happy. Just when I returned to training, I dislocated my knee.

“I tried my best to get fit, but when I competed in the qualification rounds in Manila, the pain was unbearable, so I could not compete in the final. I was upset.”

The challenges, though, have only made him a stronger person.

“This is life. You have to face reality and accept it. Right now, I am focusing on my recovery because I want to win a gold in the 2021 SEA Games. Many have asked about the Olympics, but I want to make sure that I am in good shape first.

“I do not want a recurrence of my knee injuries. Both my kneecaps have been operated on. So, I cannot be pushing myself for the Tokyo Olympics.

“These heartbreaks will only motivate me. I have been injured many times, but I have not entertained the thought of retirement. I will go on for a few more years.”

In the 2017 SEA Games, he won silver in the team event but has not achieved any individual accolades in the biennial games.

He is hellbent on winning gold in the 2021 Games in Vietnam as he looks to end his career on a good note.

However, with the likes of Mohd Shahrul Aimy Kamarul Hisam, Ng Chun Chen and Teoh Chuen Feng breathing down the necks of the seniors, Jern Rong realises that he has to up his performance to remain relevant in the team.

“I know I have to catch up with them because they are beginning to be on par with us. They will surely keep us competitive, but at the end of the day, we are mates who support each other.”

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