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Last name: Gene Leck Yuan Jie (@genejie)
Status: Single (but married to hockey)
Food: I’m not too strict with my diet and I’m not very picky with my food either. I try to incorporate a carb base, with a portion of protein (I love meat hehe) and veg.
Exercise: I train up to five times a week – three pitch sessions and two gym sessions. But currently, I’m injured, so I only train once on the pitch and go to the gym three times a week to do my rehabilitation.
Q: Were you an active kid?
A: Yeah! I grew up as a girl who played catch with her brother and cousins and joined them for football on the empty bridge. Then in primary school I took up basketball as a CCA (under the influence of my brother who was also at the CCA at the time).
How did you come to hockey?
I was in ACC basketball until elementary 4 when I realized the club closed because we didn’t have a coach. Growing up, I was quite tall, so the ACC hockey teachers would always ask me casually if I wanted to join hockey because they thought I was a good size for it.
So when the basketball CCA closed, I accepted the offer to join hockey and the rest is history! Look where I am today.
When did you start playing competitive hockey?
I represented the country for the first time in an age group tournament in 2011 at the U18 Asian Cup held in Thailand. Then I made my debut for the senior team in 2012 in the World League First Round held in Kuantan, Malaysia.
What do you like in hockey?
There are a few things. First of all, I love that it’s my safe place and an outlet for release, especially in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. During the few hours that I play, it is as if I can forget everything else and I feel happy.
Secondly, I love that it got me so many sisters (my teammates) who I’m really close with and enjoy spending time with, even outside of training. Well, very cliché, but I love that hockey taught me many values and life lessons that shaped me into the person I am today.
What are some of the highlights of your career?
There are a few that come to mind:
Being part of the Southeast Asian Games team in 2017, having just returned that year from a long break I had taken to focus on my studies. I had tried the 2013 and 2015 editions and did not make the team for both. So being part of the team in 2017 meant a lot to me because I felt like my effort and hard work over the years had finally paid off. Coming home with a medal of course made it even more enjoyable. We won bronze!
It’s more recent, qualifying for the Asian Games. This happened in June this year, where we won third place in the Asian Games qualifiers held in Jakarta. Playing in the Asian Games has always been my career goal, so qualifying with my teammates was like taking a step closer to realizing my dreams of playing in the Asian Games.
Conversely, what are some of the challenges as a national athlete?
I would say not having enough time to do everything I want. As we spend most of our nights in workouts (which is a choice and I like my choice) sometimes there just isn’t enough time
When you were younger, did you have any incidents that made you feel uncomfortable?
I used to be pretty insecure about how I dropped out of junior college (JC). I always felt that I had to make it my duty to prove to others that I was not a failure. And I guess it didn’t help that when people (sometimes foreigners) found out that I dropped out of JC after spending two years studying there, they said, “Aiyo lost two years.”
For a very long time, it always bothered me and I felt like people were judging me for it. But over the years I also realized that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and just because the JC program wasn’t for me didn’t mean I was a failure. It just motivated me to discover my strengths and what I love to do, which led me to study mass communication, which was honestly one of the best decisions of my life.
Have you ever struggled with your body?
I think it was probably the period after the ‘O’ levels. I had taken a few months off to focus on my studies and when I study I tend to stress out and eat a lot. So naturally, I gained a bit of weight and was a bit plumper.
I knew I had to lose weight to get back in shape for training and it was a very tough few months where I tried to watch my diet a little more closely. I even had to go train earlier than my peers for extra sessions with our trainer at the time. Eventually, with the increase in training load and diet, I managed to lose the weight I had gained and became slimmer than before.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I would say that there are days when I am and there are days when I am not. But body image and loving your body is still a work in progress. I went through a clean eating phase last May and lost quite a bit of weight to become much leaner than before. The diet was made easier because I was home mostly due to heightened alertness and meal prep was really handy
But now that things are almost back to normal and my usual activities have returned, I find it difficult to eat as cleanly and diligently. As a result of that, and also being out of training due to my injury, I’ve regained some of the weight I lost and I’m not as skinny as I was then.
So some days I think back to those days and I wish I could be this skinny forever, but I try to learn to tell myself that it’s okay to not be this skinny and just enjoy life, food.
Have you ever received comments about your body?
I’ve heard people call me thunder thighs, and it affected me when I was younger. But over the years I’ve learned to appreciate my body and be grateful for my thighs because I trained hard for them and they play such an important role as a hockey player.
If given a chance, I wouldn’t change the size of my thighs at all because I’ve learned to be grateful to my body and appreciate it for serving me.
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