So Griselda, how would you describe yourself?

24 hours a day, 365 days a year, my crew Olivia Chen and I channel our energy into striving for excellence. We are two Singaporean sailors on a mission to reach the top of the Olympic podium in Tokyo 2020!

While doing so, we hope to inspire everyone around us, and grow the sporting spirit in Singapore! As we embark on this gruelling yet exhilarating journey together, there are certain targets along the way that we aim to reach.

2018 will surely be a very testing and exciting year! Apart from the Asian Games, there will also be the first round of the Olympic Games qualifiers, whereby the top 10 nations at the ISAF Sailing World Championship will secure a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games! We will be doing everything in our control to get that spot!

This is a long road towards achieving our ultimate goal of bringing Olympic glory to Singapore! With all our physical strength, mental power and fighting spirit, we will be making every single day count as we look forward to taking on the world’s best and emerging on top at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games!


When did you start sailing?

I started sailing through a school holiday programme at SAFYC Sembawang, called Get Kids Afloat,  back when I was in the primary school. My dad enrolled both my older brothers and I, so that we had something to do to pass time. After that, all 3 of us went through the club’s sailing programmes and rose through the ranks of C, B and A squads where we started competing locally.


What were your best memories of the early regattas?

I remember not finishing that many races, and getting my hands all ripped apart. But I also remember the feeling of encouragement when my parents would wait on shore to receive me back from the sea. Despite my horrendous results, they never failed to show their unwavering support for me.

Those would be the best memories of when I first started sailing.


Describe your overseas training experience

I’ve sailed in 5 out of the 7 continents of the world. Those 2 missing out would be Africa (I’d love to sail there!) and Antarctica.

Life is an adventure and sailing would be the roller coaster rides. Training abroad means taking on full responsibilities of your safety, health, security, finance, psychology, discipline and motivation to train in an unfamiliar environment, making it feel like your second home and sticking to your routine. There’re bound to be many ups and downs, but the quicker you adapt, the more fruitful your learning will be.  


How do you cope with school and competitive training?

I didn’t juggle both overseas training/competitions and uni concurrently.Whenever I was abroad, my only goal was to excel in sailing. Everything else was secondary. I only opened my notes again and played catch up when I was back in Singapore.

My training schedule has never affected the way I studied, it only impacted my attendance.

What do you do on weekends?

I chose to be an athlete. If I have to train ‘X’ amount of days to achieve my goals, then I will train those amount of days. It doesn’t matter if it’s the weekend or Christmas, I’ll do what I have to do and I’ll be happy doing it.

What has been the most challenging part about getting to the Asian Games?

I started sailing and competing with a crew who was new to sailing last year, with no funding support. This journey that we embarked on has been an uphill battle, but definitely one that has taught us so much more about the strength within ourselves.

Training a fresh pair of eyes to spot gusts and different wind directions, helping her to understand the dynamics of the 49erFX and sailing, teaching new skills and working muscles that were never used, explaining all the sailing jargons and how a sailing regatta is run, expounding sailing tactics, strategies and rules, on top of a crowdfund campaign, a part time job, planning a sailing calendar, driving across Europe and gathering all my resources to ensure that our plan materializes and runs well, has been beyond draining.     

The most challenging bit, has been waking up daily to do it all over again.

How does Sailing challenge you?

Every sport presents its own challenges. I’ve been molded into who I am today, through sailing.

If I could describe myself in 3 words, I would say that I’m positive, driven and brave.

In the face of a predicament, I would focus on the solution rather than the problem, and encourage others (if any) around me to strive for positive outcomes through the difficulty.

I constantly push myself and I don’t stop till I reach my goals.

I dare to go out there and pick up new skills, do things I’ve never done, and have the courage to be vulnerable to failure yet do it regardless.

All these may not necessarily be sailing related, but having been out on the water sailing for more than half my life, I have acquired many skills through this sport that I apply to my life.

The thing about sailing, is that the game constantly changes and forces you to adapt. The quicker you catch on, the higher your chances of succeeding. In life, and in sailing.


What does Sailing teach you about teamwork?

I race in a team sport. Teamwork is everything. In order to be successful, 2 individual beings have to be in sync with each other. There has to be good communication, workload and responsibilities have to be properly discussed and divided, and you have to trust that your partner is giving her best. Pushing each other to unlock our potential is the job that we both share, as we work towards the same mission.

When it’s 2 people onboard a boat, it’s no longer just about myself. I fight not for myself, but for my team. At any given time on the water, I have to rely on my partner to do her job, and vice versa.

Teamwork is 2 people working on our individual roles, and success is when these individual accomplishments come together nicely.


Describe a time when you failed but bounced back.

I was the only sailor that came back to Singapore empty handed at the 2006 Asian Games. I was in silver medal contention, going in to the final race. I had started the race well, and would’ve bagged a silver medal until everything came crashing down when I got flagged by the jury. I ended up in 4th place, while I watched every single of my team mate proudly representing Singapore on the podium.

2 weeks later, I delivered my best performance and clinched 2nd place at the Optimist World Championship.

What does success mean to you?

It’s about waking up daily and looking into the mirror and feeling thankful and happy about being given another day to work towards my goal!

It’s about being filled completely with positive energy, ready to rise to every challenge that’s thrown in my face and to keep shining through!

It’s about being motivated to be better than yesterday, and ensuring that my actions follow through!

It’s about being at peace with myself and having healthy and loving relationships with those around me.

I would never be able to define success in 100 words, but I would say that success is a continuous journey. It’s not just about attaining it, it’s about sustaining it!

What legacy would you like to leave in this world?

I want to be remembered as a fighter.

This rocky road that I’m on would not be one of the most walked ones. There has been many obstacles in my way, but with a lot of fire in my belly, I find a way around it and keep hustling. With every step, and everyday that I move forward, I’m a day closer to my purpose. It’s true what they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

In life, we’ll face different challenges that will all make us stronger. After all, great things were never born of comfort zones. Embrace challenges because our growth happens when we are stretched . Use your strength and dedication to keep fighting for what you want and believe in!


Read more about Griselda

Sailing: Griselda Khng and Sara Tan earn Singapore one more spot at Rio Olympics – Straits Times, 22 Nov 2015
Two more golds from Singapore sailors at East Coast – The New Paper, 14 Jun 2015
SEA Games sailing: 2 gold for Team Singapore – Channel News Asia, 14 Jun 2015
Netballer turns sailor in bid to realise Olympic dream – Today Online, 30 Nov 2016
Big ambitions, small finances: Athletes who turn to funding from strangers and family – Channel News Asia, 11 Jun 2017
Sailing: Griselda Khng and Olivia Chen get six-figure sponsorship boost from DBS – Straits Times, 25 Apr 2018