Hi Kimberly! How would you describe yourself? 

An Olympic medal is the goal while embracing the journey is invaluable. Being on this route towards Tokyo2020 has been exhilarating. Reflecting on how each choice has led to countless unexpected blessings. Always grateful for everyone backing us to do what we love and achieve our goals. I will always stay hungry and humble for more, trusting the path we are on.


How and when did you start sailing?

I started sailing at the age of 10, through the CHIJ Katong Convent Primary CCA programme. It was my sister, Samantha that influenced me to give it a shot. This may surprise you but I was initially afraid of sailing and preferred to stay on the beach while others took to the boats.

I was in both sailing and ballet at that time and was about to choose the latter. It was Samantha bringing me out on the optimist together and the push from my parents that drew me to sailing. From there, the passion grew and the rest is history.


What is your best memory from the early regatta days?

At 11, in the June Singapore Nationals I recall one ‘windy’ race. Most of it is a blur now, but I vividly remember sailing (on the reach) with all my limbs spread inside the boat. For those unfamiliar with an optimist, it looks like a bathtub. Imagine a young small girl fearfully holding onto the inside walls of that while trying to steer it in the right direction. It must have looked really funny from outside.

Looking back at that image always gives me a good laugh. Thinking ‘those were the days, even the Optimist seemed uncontrollable’. I have definitely grown so much since then, physically and mentally.


What is it like training overseas?

Having been training overseas since I was 12, I can only be grateful. The experiences gathered, boundaries stretched, friends made, cultures learnt are truly invaluable. On one hand, there is the luxury of being abroad, having ‘freedom’ some would say. But I believe what we do is hard work. We go for training camps overseas to hone our skills in conditions we are unable to get back home, put ourselves up against our fellow competitors prior to important competitions. Truth be told, there are times all we visit is the sailing club, the accommodation and supermarkets. Now this might sound rather regimental, but the teammates keep me going. The smallest of things becomes fun and knowing I am not alone in these tough blocks of trainings. Ultimately, we bear the fruits of our hard work when the time arises and that feeling as a team is indescribable.

As for missing home when travels get long and tough, this is normal. Personally, I do miss family and friends back home. What keeps me going is knowing they are always 100% behind me, supporting me. And of course it does help to have close friends abroad that become another support circle.

About the most memorable trip, we used to talk about the best trip of the year. It could be based on competition result, fun factor, location or any reason. One was in Whitianga in 2010. We went there for training and the Optimist New Zealand Nationals. The group of friends that went, coach, team manager – the combination was just perfect. Everyday was filled with laughter, fun and great sailing. We ended the regatta sweeping almost all the titles except 2nd.

Where have you trained?

Spain – Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Gran Canaries, Barcelona, Santander
Italy – Venice, Lake Garda
Holland – Workum
Australia – Perth, Sydney, Melbourne
New Zealand – Auckland, Whitianga, Napier
Thailand – Pattaya
Malaysia – Langkawi
France – Cannes, Hyeres
Germany – Kiel, Travemunde
Portugal – Tavira, Cascais, Vilamoura, Porto
Japan – Gamagori, Enoshima
Cyprus – Limassol
Ireland – Dublin
Austria – Neusiedl am See
USA – Miami
Argentina – Buenos Aires
Brazil – Rio de Janeiro


How do you cope with school and competitive training?

First, supportive schools (CHIJ Katong Convent Primary, Tanjong Katong Girls’ School, Raffles Institute & Singapore Management University) and teachers. This I am truly appreciative for. Their belief and support in my pursuits in sailing and studies. As I progressed through from primary, secondary and tertiary education, the travels got more frequent and for longer durations. At times, I was out of school for almost half the year, competing and training overseas.

The toughest year would be 2014 having Asian Games end just a month before the first A Level paper. That required a lot of discipline, prioritisation of time and help from friends. I am really grateful for the friends that I have met through the years, the kindness I have received. Many have gone out of their way to help me out with lessons I have missed, notes I was not present to take and much more. Also, the teachers who would spend the extra time out of lessons to ensure I understood the concepts.

On my part, I did the best I could with the time I had. Be it finishing homework while the teacher was teaching or studying during postponement of a race. Those were just hours I could grasp here and there. I really do believe, till a certain extent, studying and sailing complemented each other. It gave me a break from one, looking forward to the other. Moreover, I became more efficient and focused with my time.


What do you do on weekends?

Training was a regular weekend affair. I would not say it was a sacrifice but a choice to have such a lifestyle. Working hard at something I love, I enjoyed that. There will always be tough times, when the results do not show the effort put in. Wondering if it is time to retire from this, to have a more ‘normal’ life.

But, ultimately, I knew achieving success in sailing is what I really wanted. From there, I have always stuck to the path, put in the work and trusted that with time things will fall into place.


Describe how Sailing challenges you

The nature of sailing constantly exposes one to countless ever changing variables. It never fails to throw a curveball when one starts to feel comfortable in their stride. That is the true beauty of the sport. The moments of uncertainty, trusting in one’s knowledge and preparation, it is all part of the game. One is always tested mentally and physically, in search of the optimum rhythm of both to achieve excellence. The greatest challenge is finding the zone where both external and internal flow on the same wavelength to work as one. Achieving that level is what perfection means to me.


What does Sailing teach you about learning to lose?

Sailing has taught me to differentiate between a controllable or uncontrollable lost. For the controllable ones, identifying the areas to work on and targeting them, that is the way. Then, there will always be indescribable moments when everything has been done flawlessly, but the outcome does not showcase that. From outside it is recognized as a lost, results are still what the general public refer to. However, these are the moments where trusting in the processes and sticking to the right path are crucial. I believe that everything happens for a reason and with time the results will show.


Describe a time when you failed but bounced back

Almost missing out on qualifications in my first Optimist World Championships was a turning point in my sailing career. That inability to control my own fate, as the last spot was left in the hands of a panel to decide. That feeling of helplessness and disappointment in myself for not having had a better event, to seal my spot in the team.

I knew from that moment forth, I would not want to feel that way ever again. I worked harder and smarter to always aim for the top. Without a doubt, my family and coaches had a huge part to play in that bounce back. Their belief and unwavering support was a huge pillar in my steps forward.

What does success mean to you?

Success to me is beyond the glitz and the glory. In my eyes, he/she who succeeds is the one who leaves the competition gaining the respect of others around. Being the one that others admire, support and look to as a role model. At the end, success does not come down to winning or losing, but the whole collective journey of experiences. That competition is with no one, but oneself.


What legacy do you want to leave behind?

I admire Elon Musk, a revolutionary, pushing unheard of boundaries for the greater good of humanity. I, for one, am not saying I strive to achieve such magnitude of influence, but I would like to make a difference in my own way.

Read more about Kimberly

Balance is Key – MOE
Kimberly crowed Sailor of the Year – MOE
The Making of a National Sailor – SMU Snapshots
Kindness, it’s up to us – MyActiveSG
Singapore’s Kimberly Lim & Cecilia Low finish seventh at Sailing World Cup – Straits Times, 11 Jun 2017
S’pore duo qualify for Sailing World Cup final – Straits Times, 1 May 2017
Singapore’s Lim, Low qualify for final of Sailing World Cup series
 – Today Online, 2 May 2017
No reign in Spain, but sailors get buzz from bronze finish – Today Online, 3 Apr 2017
420 Sailing: Singapore’s Kimberly Lim and Savannah Siew win silver at World Championships – Red Sports, 1 Aug 2013
Two golds as sailors hit medal rush
 – Today Online, 1 Oct 2014
Be A Sport: Getting Involved In The SEA Games – Challenge
12-year-old Singaporeans win fourth medal in a row for nation at Optimist World Sailing Championship in Brazil – Red Sports, 13 Aug 2009
2011 Optimist Worlds- Singapore’s Kimberly Lim is new World Champion – Sail World Cruising, 09 Jan 2012
S’porean teen clinches world sailing championship – Yahoo News, 10 Jan 2012
Sailing: Kimberly Lim wins Optimist World crown; Singapore sweep all titles – Red Sports, 10 Jan 2012
Sailing: Kimberly Lim and Savannah Siew win NSC Cup challenge trophy for 420 category – Red Sports, 23 Nov 2013
An international sailing stage, at home – Asia One, 28 Feb 2014
Sailing: Singapore teens win silver at 420 World Ladies’ Champs – Sport Asia, 4 Aug 2014
Sailors’ one last hurrah – Today Online, 15 Sept 2014
Singapore’s Lim, Low qualify for final of Sailing World Cup series – Today Online, 02 May 2017
Singapore’s 49erFX duo finish seventh at World Cup – The New Paper, 12 Jun 2017