Drifting on ice

BEING an active child, Dione Tan's parents encouraged her to give skating a try. However, they didn't expect it would spark a serious interest in her.

At the age of nine, she won her first gold medal in an international short track speed skating competition. In the years that followed, she continued to win medals in different countries and recently, she was named in The Malaysia Book of Records as the first Malaysian woman to win a medal in an internatioal short track speed skating competition.

At just 14 years old, she demonstrates exceptional skills on the ice and is an expert in balancing when she takes speed. She has competed in various events from 500m, 1,000m to 1,500m and is now targeting the 3000m relay team.

"I don't know how to win, and actually feel scared whenever I skate, but my coach said I have really good speed on the track," she said.

Currently studying at Desa Parkcity International School, her coach, Tan Bee Leng had trained her well that she reached the stage of Freestyle 7 out of 10. Her coach commented that Tan is an outstanding performer and coaches from other countries also acknowledge her potential in short track speed skating.

Where have you competed or trained at?

I have travelled many times to compete in China, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and the Philippines. For the training camps, I have also gone to many countries. I would say that Dongguan, China was the best place where I won a Gold medal in Asian Open Short Track Speed Skating in 2013.

How do you juggle between studies and skating?

The main challenge is my school work. I wouldn't say I am good in studies, but I'm managing. Of course, I will prioritise my studies but I also enjoy skating. I usually finish my school work and studies during the day and at night, I give skating my full concentration.

Are your parents supportive?

Yes, they are! When I was five, I told my mum I was interested in ice skating.

Even though it is an expensive sport, she gave me full support to join the classes. In fact, my whole family is supportive whenever I go for competitions overseas. When I was previously studying at Kuen Cheng High School, they were also very supportive of what I do.

Tell us about your training and if there are any tricks involved.

I either train early in the morning at 7am or late nights because in Malaysia we only have two and a half rinks and there is a higher risk of accidents if there are people in the rink. I think more spaces are needed to train in. Sometimes, I also train after school. There are no tricks involved; my stamina gets me going at high speeds.

Is figure skating similar to speed short track?

No, they are both different. However all short track skaters did figure skating. When I was younger, I used to participate in figure skating but I don't like dancing so I went into short track speed skating. Both aren't easy. My coach said I am also good at figure skating.

How do you feel participating in different countries, and competing against older participants?

I try my best every time I go for competitions. I always feel happy and thankful to participate and achieve such placings overseas. These victories aren't only for myself but for those who have supported me such as my family, coach and friends.

I know for a fact that many people are better than me as they are much older, they have more experience and they train harder. But when I train with my coach and compete with her, she helps me put in more effort.

What is your dream?

My dream is to become a dentist. At this age, I don't want to put all my focus on skating because if anything happens to me in the rink, there will be no future for me. Maybe after a few years I may change my mind.