Christina Tham takes gold at Southeast Asian Games 38 years after first appearance

Tham returned to professional sport 14 years ago (Twitter: @IanBroughall)
9:31am, Sat 07 Dec 2019
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Singapore's Christina Tham won gold at the Southeast Asian Games, 38 years after she first competed at the event.

In 1981, she claimed silver at the SEA Games as a swimmer in the 4x100m medley race, aged just 12.

Two years later, she achieved yet another second-place, but she then had an incredible hiatus which lasted more than three decades.

And, after returning to elite sport in 2005, Tham secured a first ever gold in her new discipline of underwater hockey, shortly after her 50th birthday.

She said: "I never thought I would be back [at the] SEA Games and winning golds and scoring goals. I never thought I could perform at this level again."

Tham was thrilled to finally claim victory after so many years without a winner's medal and concedes she did not fully understand the magnitude of medalling in a major competition as a youngster.

"I was very young and didn't appreciate the significance [of my] achievement. I come from a typical Singaporean Chinese family where [you're] expected to [accept] achievements with modesty," she added.

"It was only after I became an adult that I realised the enormity of my achievements - I was 12 and had won a medal in the SEA Games and was in the top 10 per cent in the country in the [national examinations that year]."

And the 50-year-old could not be more grateful for having found underwater hockey, something which has had a positive effect on her life as a whole.

"I saw an article [about underwater hockey]. It sounded so interesting and intriguing, [so I] went to try it out," she said.

"I thought that playing a team sport would really round me up as a person. I found I missed a dimension doing only solitary sports my whole life."

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