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A Leap of Faith to Estonia: Raeshon Loo (AR!SE Athlete Fundraiser)

The past two years of my life saw multiple challenges and setbacks. I served in the Navy as part of mandatory National service duties and had to put my athletics pursuit on hold. While I did try to train through NS, it became nearly impossible to come close to my previous training load, and I gave up trying for a while. However, something life-changing happened during my confinement week. My grandma passed on, but not before leaving me a word of advice to "Just be happy with what I am (you are) doing." in Chinese. It shook me out of my resignation and made me realise I was easily giving up on my dreams. Since then, I decided to return to the Decathlon more determined than ever to do whatever I could to keep moving forward.

Nonetheless, the journey has been far from smooth sailing. Back-to-back injuries kept surfacing, causing me to feel like I had to always take two steps forward after taking a step in the right direction. Just when these injuries had recovered, I suffered a freak accident during pole vault training in January of 2023, which caused my thumb to be fractured. This incident left me out for six months, and I had to slowly work my way back up. At first, shelving my competition plans to heal and rehabilitate was not easy to accept, but it taught me to hope for the best and always prepare for the worst. More importantly, it made me treasure every second I had to chase my dreams and make the most out of them.

After "ORD-ding", and finishing my National Service, I opted for a 1-month trip to Estonia, known for producing world-class, Olympic standard decathletes. While it was scary to be planning everything and heading there alone, I was excited for the experience to be training with and learning from the best. Thanks to the generosity of my aunt and AR!SE members who contributed to the fundraiser, I was able to cover the necessary cost needed to pay for the training stint. It would have been impossible to finance this training camp had I relied on my hard-earned savings from NS, alone. I will always be grateful to each one of you who supported me.

Upon touching down, the fear of getting conned or robbed while finding food and figuring out transportation to my training camp intensified. However, all of it melted away when my coaches and training mates greeted me with genuine warmth and hospitality that immediately created a sense of home. Everyone welcomed me with open arms and went out of their way to help me and guide me along in the workouts. Each workout was about quality and included specialised training regimens designed to push each athlete to their physical and mental limits. While my training mates were Decathletes too, none of us had the same session as our coaches had tailored our training plans to our individual needs, strengths, weakness, and competition goals.

It brought out the best in me. Training and living alongside highly focused high-performance athletes allowed me to push beyond my limits and uncover untapped potential. I broke many Personal Records and corrected my techniques in all ten events. Most importantly, it opened my eyes to witness the reality of high performance and how much it takes to be an elite athlete. Not just in the type of training we did but largely in the lifestyle we had to commit ourselves to. High-performance sports are a different thing altogether. One that is often seen and known to be a difficult and lonely journey yet a tremendously fulfilling one. While the level of self-discipline and sacrifice required was intimidating initially, it made me realise that I did have a lot more potential for improvement to unlock. Numbers do not lie, and the progress made has restored my much-needed confidence and self-belief that I can truly break the Singapore National Decathlon Record and qualify for the 2025 SEA Games. The only question is: How much am I willing to give?

As part of his plans to break the Singapore National Record and qualify for the upcoming 2025 SEA Games, Raeshon is looking to head back to Estonia for a longer training stint. This stint would allow him to go through a proper periodisation phase with proper access to recovery facilities and athletic experts to ensure that his body holds up well, under the purview of Andrei Nazarov, former Olympic Decathlete for Estonia. For those who would like to support Raeshon, you may do this here:


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