The Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic games (IVP) season might be over, but their stories live on.
IVP is a series of competitions that gather students from all corners of Singapore to compete in a variety of sports. The best of each university’s and polytechnic’s athletes take part in a battle of physical prowess, mental strength and stamina to come out champions. It usually takes place in the beginning of Semester 2 of each academic year.
NUS is a longstanding contender for the top spots. This year, Residential Life spoke to two athletes who were each vital forces in their respective sport. Read on to find out about how Year 2 track runner Bilian handled her team in this high-stakes, high-pressure environment.
- Tell us about yourself – name, age, faculty, what do you study?
Hi! I am Bilian and I will be turning 22 this year! I am a year 2 Communications & New Media student in FASS.
- How long have you been in track & field? Why did you want to pursue this sport and how has the journey been like so far?
This is almost my fourth year being in this sport. I was first exposed to Track in Junior College, when my seniors convinced me to go for the sprints trials. As someone who likesshuttle runs but could not even finish my 2.4km for NAPFA, I decided to join to improve myfitness and speed. The adrenaline rush that you get from running your best for that 100m race was so addictive, that it convinced me to keep going.
The journey has not been easy, considering the number of times I wanted to quit after not performing up to my own expectations. However, it has also been a really fulfilling one as the encouragement I received from my coaches and teammates motivated me to train harder and run again.
- As captain of your team (NUS Athletics), what made you want to take on this role?
I decided to run for the role, because I feel that there is so much more I want to contribute to the team. Our team is large and I realised that sometimes it is hard for everyone to know their teammates well. I wanted everyone to feel a sense of belonging, instead of having the focus to be all about results and medals. I want my members to have a season filled with great memories and friendships that will last for ages.
- How do you manage your team in terms of keeping them at their physical peak, as well as mentally/emotionally? Were there any difficult moments?
I think our executive committee really worked well together. At the start of the academic year, we crafted an annual training plan and have been discussing regularly with our coaches on how we aim to work towards IVP.
Throughout the year, we will open up forms and encourage our teammates to sign up for other athletics competitions (e.g. Series,which are smaller / more casual competitions) to get a rough estimation of how much they have improved.
Other than weekly trainings, we also have regular gym sessions and extra training jios (invitations) for those who wish to train more. Since we always train together, we are quite close with one another and we communicate openly in the team. In track, we are all friendly people and our teammates will not hesitate to look for us when they need help.
On top of that, we have regular meetings to discuss concerns and coming up with measures to improve!
There are definitely some tough moments that hit us unexpectedly. We have injuries like shin splints – it’s a common complaint in track. Fun fact: it happens so often to our athletes that we even came up with a “rehab club” in trainings. Other injuries can occur so unexpectedly that you don’t even know how you got injured and can only be sad while waiting for it to heal. Last year, one of our athletes fractured his leg before a major competition and the reserve ended up running in his place.
IVP 2020 team. Credits: Iman
- Describe a typical training session during the season. Is it any different from off-season? If so, how do you amp up your training?
We will start trainings with few rounds of warm up around the track, followed by some static stretches. Afterwards, we will gather to do our running drills. Our coach will then issue our main work-out, which is planned according to our events. The main work-out normally consists of speed and endurance trainings, depending on what we are focusing on for that training. After we are done with the work-out, we jog to cool down and end the day off with dinner at either Tea Party (at the University Sports Centre) or Supper Stretch.
When it’s off-season, we normally cut down on the intensity of the workouts and focus on improving things such as running form and starts. Trainings are also chiller with simple games for warm up and often, athletes explore different events when they are not competing. As we approach the next season, the training intensity will gradually increase.
- Do you currently stay on campus? Can you say where, and if so, how did being an IVP affect your on campus life specifically?
Yes, I am a resident in Raffles Hall! I think as an IVP athlete, there are benefits such as a slot to run for IHG and having more hall points if I were to stay the next year. I was also able to transfer the skills I learnt from IVP trainings to coach the hall track team and I guess, experience more training sessions for myself!
The 51st SA Inter-Club Championships. Credits: Bilian Ou
- How has your experience in IVP changed you? What were the most challenging parts? And what were the most rewarding?
Being an varsity athlete definitely made me more disciplined in terms of my diet during season and always planning my schedules. It also encouraged me to be more confident by having faith in myself and removing some of the doubts I previously had. The experience taught me that the quality of each session is sometimes, more efficient than adjusting the quantity of training.
The most difficult parts are facing disappointment and juggling IVP with my other commitments. Sometimes, you have to choose between finally having a good sleep and waking up early for extra morning trainings.
The most rewarding parts of being in IVP are the friends I made. They accompanied me during all the moments when I felt like I could literally die, and sometimes even vomiting during workouts unexpectedly. We also share the moments when we hit the goals we set. It is hard to describe that with words. For example, you realised you improved your timing, even if it’s a 0.03s improvement, you feel great knowing that your efforts paid off.
Overall winners of the Inter-Club Women Championships. Credits: Iman
- Can you share a memorable incident that happened during IVP?
During a major competition last year, we formed our team quite late and kind of rushed to train for our 4x100m relay. I was quite stressed out after knowing who our opponents were, and on top of that, it was my first relay with NUS. Compared to some of the big name runners from other schools, we were relatively less experienced. For that race, we were not really expecting anything; we just wanted to end it well as it was the last race for that day. The whole time when we were at the call room, my senior was really nice and calmed us down. In the end, surprisingly, we got second place! Even our coach was surprised. Till today, I am still really thankful for that pep talk.
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