ANJA Chong was the hottest thing on ice in the 2017 SEA Games. She swept all the three gold medals on offer for short track. The 26-year-old was dubbed the “Malaysian Ice Queen”. Anja is far more than just an Ice Queen. She practises law in the United Kingdom and has also ventured into e-commerce. She is listed in Forbes’ “30 Under 30 Asia” list, joining 300 young entrepreneurs, leaders and changemakers across Asia. She speaks to StarSports’ T. AVINESHWARAN after her name was announced in the list on April 2.
Q: Your thoughts on being listed in the Forbes 30 under 30 list
A: It’s a funny story actually. When I was first nominated, I felt that I was undeserving of such an accolade and wanted to decline the proposal. I’m so glad that someone gave me the push, because here I am, as a Forbes 30 under 30 Asia recipient, and I’m incredibly honoured and shocked.
I think all of us struggle with the imposters syndrome (A psychological condition in which one doubts one’s achievements), so being recognised helps me to acknowledge that I am on the right path. As an athlete at heart, I will always want to push for more – to be better than I was the day before. That work ethic and drive for excellence is something I really cherish from my experience as an athlete, but it’s also important to stop and recognise what we have accomplished thus far. Life is a marathon, not a sprint; and it is all the small wins that take us to our big goals.
How has life been for you after the SEA Games?
It’s been exciting. I’m stepping into new territory. I founded my company, Alo Potentia, which was launched just two weeks after the last SEA Games. It has been a big learning curve, trying to learn all the different aspects of building a business, but I love being able to challenge myself and grow. Alo Potentia is founded around solving the problem of female clothing lacking pockets. Alo Potentia makes “She’s Strong” Crossbody phone cases that have a detachable crossbody strap and wallet on the phone case for mothers, athletes or any woman who is constantly running around and on the go. Our aim is to be as sustainable as we can while offering innovative solutions that support women.
With the current Covid-19 situation, how has your daily life changed?
As a one-woman team, I generally work from home anyway, so I’m able to run my business as effectively as usual. Of course, as an e-commerce brand, it has meant staying on top of the situation and making sure that our business can run as smoothly as always and that we keep our customers informed.
Once Covid-19 subsides, will you be looking to get back to competitive action or just concentrate on your ventures?In order to compete at the SEA Games, I made the difficult choice of getting a steroid injection in the torn ligament of my knee, knowing that there were likely to be major repercussions. Unfortunately, it has caused many other issues and injuries to my knee, and it’s a struggle to walk for more than 10 minutes. It was heartbreaking at first, but I know that I took a calculated risk in order to compete. Right now, I’m trying to stay positive and focusing on building Alo Potentia instead.
What advice would you give to the youths out there to succeed in life?
Life does not move in a straight line, but rather in moments. If your time has not come, be patient and keep doing the work. The right things will come into your life when they are meant to. We are not the product of our circumstances, but rather the choices that we make. And we always have a choice – to do better, work hard, learn more and always live life with grace and gratitude.
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