My favourite move in judo is called the seoi nage. It’s a shoulder throw that’s very commonly used in competition; if executed well, it can win you a match straightaway. It’s the first move I was taught and I’ve been using it ever since.

I started doing judo in secondary school. I was considering different options of co-curricular activities (CCA) at the school open house, and I came across the judo club doing a demonstration of different throws. I thought it looked really nice, so I picked it up as my CCA.

No, I never saw it as a recreational activity. I’ve been a competitive person since young, and I competed in the National School Games when I was in sec one. It was my first major competition, and losing in the finals made me want to do better and work even harder.

I think tearing a part of my knee ligament in 2014 was one of the worst injuries I ever had; but, I wouldn’t blame that as major factor for only winning bronze at the 2015 SEA Games. I lost to Vietnam in the semi-finals, and the guy was just better than me.

Highlight? Winning the Hong Kong International Judo Tournament this year was a big one for me. Getting the victory was even sweeter because I defeated the same Vietnamese guy whom I lost to at the SEA Games. I saw him and thought, ‘I have to make things right.’

Preparations for the SEA Games in Malaysia are going pretty smoothly. I just came back from a four-week training stint in Japan. Even though I was training with university students, the guys there were tough. They’ve definitely made my grips and throws much stronger.

In between training, I coach kids between the ages of five and 12. I love coaching, especially when I get to see their smiles at the end of the lesson. It’s also a nice feeling when they go out to compete and perform really well.

To me, it’s very important to start them young so that we can slowly build the local judo community. The judo scene in Singapore is currently very small, so I want the next generation to compete early so that there will be a continuation once I’m done.

But right now, I feel like I’m at my peak as a judoka, and I want to thank all of my training partners for lending me their bodies and time so that I’ll be in my best form. You cannot do it alone in judo, so I’m very appreciative of all their help and support.” – Gary Chow, 27

Interview by: Arman Shah