BY Lim Vin Tsen
Mak Sin Sin, 23 years, is currently pursuing a University of London International Programmes Accounting and Finance degree and has been an active participant in water polo for the past six years. Sin Sin’s reasons for pursuing water polo began in 2011 when she discovered Malaysia was playing host for the Sukma Games and one of the events was Women’s Water Polo.
Since Sin Sin was already involved in swimming, she opted not to participate in competitive swimming and decided to switch to water polo just for fun. Initially, she never thought that her foray into water polo would be a serious affair but when she managed to qualify for the 2015 SEA Games squad, her perspective about water polo became more than just a spur of the moment decision.
Once Sin Sin began to fully immerse herself in water polo, she would constantly upkeep her fitness levels by working out in the gym and swimming daily. Her steely focus in her sport is tantamount to her determination into making it into the 2016 SEA Games squad and to hopefully win a medal for her efforts.
When she is busy training and keeping fit for her ultimate goal, she always ensures that her personal development goals are based on what her teammates are doing as she hopes that her teammates are also training in sync with her. Thus, her biggest challenge right now is to continuously strike the right balance between her studies, her diet and her training for the SEA Games, though Sin Sin maintains that her dieting is of no issue as she basically can eat anything.
As a budding water polo sports athlete, Sin Sin says that what makes her different from her teammates is that since they are relatively new, she feels that it is her experience participating in previous international water polo competition that sets her skills and experiences apart as compared to the younger teammates in her squad. Hence, experience matters. She recommends anyone who is keen on pursuing the sport to start researching about water polo by watching YouTube videos on the sport and see if this is the type of sport they can actively participate it and excel.
Her advice to others is to help support anyone who is active in water polo as the women’s water polo sport here in Asia is nearly an extinct sport due to the lack of popularity and support. She attributes this to the fact that not many girls like or want to play this sport as it is pretty rough. Her advice to anyone who is keen on trying out for water polo is to never be afraid of the ball, hence her personal motto in water polo is that one must have the stamina of a marathoner, the injuries of a kickboxer and the agility of a soccer player.
Sin Sin’s personal motto and passion for this sport is evident as she believes that anyone who is committed to their sport must be willing to do everything twice as hard, especially in a demanding sport like water polo. That is the key contributing element that Sin Sin feels is missing in today’s new generation of younger players. She feels that they lack the determination and willingness to push themselves harder and further in the sport and that the younger athletes must show true sportsmanship and be proud of their contributions.
“Out of the water, you can joke with me.”, says Sin Sin, “I am a normal person. But once I touch that water, whether it is for an hour or three-hour practice, I am working as hard as I can non-stop. When it comes to water polo, I am so intense. I treat it like a game because you practice like you play. I truly believe that. I think that is something that may seem like a generic answer because it seems like it would be a given. But sadly it is not. You see a great deal of players who have the talent, so they think that they do not have to work as hard; that their talent will push them through. However, it leads them to be good or mediocre players on the team. If they really challenged themselves every day, they would be the best player they could be.”
Sin Sin aims to continue furthering her water polo career and is inspired by two professional water polo athletes. The first being Kami Craig, an American water polo athlete, who played Center-Forward like her and whom back then, she drew inspiration from. Kami was a member of the US water polo team that won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a gold medal in London in 2012. She is also inspired by Rachel Fattal, an American water polo athlete who was part of the American team winning the gold medal at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, where she played in the driver position. She was also part of the gold medal-winning American team at the 2016 Summer Olympics.