Lay Sang Tan
I used to be a couch potato for 30+ years – I never did a single iota of exercise since I left college when I was 18! My weight ballooned over the next 20 years, adding 1kg stealthily per year through reckless eating in abundance. I was living up the motto, “life is too short – just eat and be merry” and at my peak, I hovered around 90kg and was really obese. My wake-up call was when my mum was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis. I realised that I had various relatives who also suffered from osteoarthritis (especially in the knees) and I didn’t want to put myself at risk of it too. I decided to take a stand and do something about it.
2016 was the year I started my weightlifting journey. Starting at 47, I’ve had 3 years of weightlifting training so far, and have been competing on the international stage representing Singapore since 2016.
My Personal Trainer cum Weightlifting Coach is my biggest motivational pillar & support. Patrick Siew from Fitness First Fusionopolis was a dedicated trainer who obsessed over every detail to always ensure that I am in the peak condition – whether in terms of perfecting my weightlifting technique, or optimizing my nutrition or recovery, and others, he has never failed to make me feel good, confident and ready for the challenges and competitions to come. I am thankful.
I consider myself a fearless trailblazer. Three years ago, at age 50, I retired from a successful corporate life and embarked on an exciting journey to break new frontiers: I became Singapore’s first Masters weightlifting athlete competing on the international stage and won a gold medal for Singapore at my very first competition at the Masters World Cup in Tokyo, April 2015. Over the course of the next 3 years, my hard work and transformation into a full-time elite Masters athlete had also allowed me to win additional honours:
Masters World Cup 12.04.2016 Tokyo 94kg Gold
Pacific Rim Tournament (PRT) 04.06.2016 Hobart 90kg Gold
World Masters Championships 01.10.2016 Heinsheim 98kg 6th
World Masters Games 24.04.2017 Auckland 99kg Bronze
Eleiko Int Open 15.08.2017 Halmstad 90kg 5th
Masters World Cup & PRT 28.10.2017 Gold Coast 86kg Silver x2
Oceania Open 25.05.2018 Melbourne 89kg Silver
World Masters Championships 20.08.2018 Barcelona 90kg 5th
APMG & Asian Championships 08.09.2018 Penang 94kg Gold x2
Masters World Cup 21.10.2018 Fuzhou 96kg Silver
Commonwealth Masters C’ship 15.06.2019 Gold Coast 89kg 4th
This year, I planned to compete in 4 international competitions – including the most prestigious event on the Masters weightlifting calendar – the World Masters Championships to be held in Montreal, Canada in August which is open to only the top 700 athletes in the world. Currently in Canada, I will be the only Singaporean flying the Singapore flag at this competition!
While charting new territories, I have learnt to build on and strengthen my past foundation, while embracing new skills, qualities and experience. Fortitude and courage, humility and mental tenacity, as well as resilience and perseverance have shaped and moulded me as I battle through the valleys of challenges or celebrate the triumphs of success. My story has even caught the attention of our national television who did a special feature on me (see https://youtu.be/mtnPBGYpXAE) and I hope to continue to inspire others in their own fitness journeys.
Through weightlifting and training, I am no longer obsessed over bodyweight – and strive instead to build a body that will support elite athletic performance. With a new outlook, I’ve also changed my living philosophy to “life is short, make it meaningful!”
My current and personal goal is the “road to 100” – I aim to lift a total of 100kg (or more) at a competition. I hope to be able to promote Masters weightlifting in Singapore, and to develop a team of elite Masters weightlifters that can continue to put Singapore on the map of Masters weightlifting. I wish for my example to drive the Masters weightlifting momentum throughout the region and in the world – to encourage Masters to excel in a sport that celebrates proper human movement, correct nutrition and a “can-do” attitude.
Ultimately, I aspire to encourage and inspire everyone to “Dare to Dream” – and to follow your passion! As we age, we aim not just to survive, but to THRIVE! Age is only a number – anyone can embrace active/graceful aging through sports, which is particularly relevant in Singapore with an aging population. Debilitating diseases like osteoporosis can be overcome through strength/resistance training, and especially important amongst females.
I strongly believe that elite sports performance at the international level is possible at any age – we can continue to bring distinction and honour to the Singapore flag anywhere in the world.