Photo credit: ADELE TAN


Adele Tan, 23, a Singaporean Olympic sport rifle shooter who represented Singapore at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Rifle shooting was a hobby she picked up at the age of 12, which then evolved into a professional career. In pre-pandemic times, this included a tight traveling schedule of at least a trip per month to compete for the nation.

Within the next few decades, she aspires to give back to her sporting community by providing a curated coaching support network for the upcoming generation in her sport. She shares some lessons that she has learnt on her journey.

Take that chance

When I was 12, I was given the opportunity to pursue shooting at the Singapore Sports School after winning a primary school shoot-out. Back then, it was an uncomfortable decision as pursuing sports was not common.

However, my family and I felt that it was best to pursue a pathway that allowed me to develop holistically. Within three years of entering Sports School, I managed to qualify for the national youth squad.

Choose the choice that scares you the most

At 16, after my O-levels, I was also presented with the option to extend the regular two year IB program to a sport-friendly four years instead. Fear creeped up on me as I was afraid to be lagging behind my peers by two years and that my hard work would go to waste.

Despite this fear, I was clear about my goals and vision and decided to extend my studies. After many years of failures and struggles in the sport, I qualified for my first Olympic Games at 21.

Be open to what life is going to throw at you

After graduating from the IB program at the Sports School, I picked up training full-time in pursuit of qualifying for the Olympics. Hours at the range never felt longer, and requirements to hit at training got tougher mentally, and physically.

While I was at the peak of my shooting season, the pandemic hit and the country went into circuit breaker for a few months. I could not train for eight consecutive weeks and it was also at this moment when we realized the Tokyo Olympic Games was postponed by a year.

It felt like all our efforts had gone down the drain. But this was the awakening moment where I learnt how to genuinely let go of things I cannot control, and adapt to changing environments, people and situations.

Treasure your loved ones

When I was 17, I was met with constant failure where I did not manage to qualify for certain important major games. My studies and mental health at that point in time took a dip as well and I felt like I had nobody to turn to. But my family and close friends chose to stick by me and lend a helping hand in those times of adversity.

Slowly, as time passed and as I became more mature, I started to understand the meaning of life. I realized not many people would be willing to stick with you during your lowest moments.It is these low moments that will show you who you should keep close to your heart.

Don’t be afraid to let go of things that do not serve you well

Letting go does not mean trying to erase an unpleasant memory or ignoring the past. It is when you no longer feel the need to react to things that take up your energy in a negative way. It takes self-awareness to notice things, situations or people that don’t serve you well, and intentional practice to let go of all thoughts attached to it.

I expected myself to perform well especially after extending my studies by a few years. However, when I did not, I fell into a pit hole of sadness where I felt less than enough every day. It took me many years to move on from this difficult situation when I was a teen.

Over the years, I learnt: Don’t try to fix anything, don’t chase things mindlessly, don’t try to be more than who you are. Just be, let your destiny gravitate towards you. Trust that there is a greater purpose for where you are headed and what’s meant to be, will happen.

Go all out, or don’t do it at all

If you decide to chase after your dreams, go for it without looking back. Understand that there are many people on this journey with you and do your best to stick to your values along the way. Not putting in all you’ve got will get you nowhere. Stick to what you have planned to do, even when it is turbulent and challenging.

Be grateful, always

On the path towards success, we will be met with many struggles, failures, lessons and disappointments. Be grateful for all opportunities and experiences you get to immerse in, and remember the people who brought you to where you are. Always remember your roots and be grateful for every small thing each day.

Choose to stand tall when facing uncertainties

During our low moments, it is extremely difficult to trust that everything will eventually work out. But it is in these moments where we learn how to be resilient and persevere, even when it feels uncomfortable. When I’ve felt like giving up, I remind myself of my bigger goal. I may not be where I want to be now, but I believe the efforts I put in today will lead me to where I want to be in future. Keep your chin up and stand tall!

Be compassionate and kind toward yourself

It is only heavy because we choose to carry it over and over again. Forgive your past self, embrace change and uncertainties. You do not have to ignore or erase the past. You just have to wholeheartedly embrace the present and move on. Be compassionate with yourself along this tough journey.

Live fearlessly

When I was young, my mother would constantly share with me how she wished she had the support to pursue her dreams when she was in her teens. Unfortunately, there were not enough resources back then. It dawned on me that in today’s day and age, we are well-supported holistically and there are many available pathways for us to pursue our dreams. With this much support and one precious life, we ought to live confidently, unapologetically and fearlessly without looking back.

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