As Jovin Tan lunges ahead towards a braver, bigger, and better horizon in the world of disabled sports in Singapore, he has been garnering generous support from people all over the world. His determination to change the world of disability sports worldwide has earned him a spot in the form of a nomination for Coach of the Year by the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC).
The award aims to reward coaches who have helped other athletes achieve and surpass their goals. Also taken into account are the contributions each of the coaches have made to the overall development of disability sports.
Jovin Tan, born with cerebral palsy, have proved his case with his breakthrough performance in the “Sailability Singapore Regatta” in 2001, breaking through barriers with top results during the Ambassador’s Cup in 2005, and won his way into the hearts of both spectators and sportsmen/sportswomen alike during the 2005 and 2010 Singapore Straits Regatta.
He is the only coach with a disability for this round of nominations by the SDSC; he believes that with the right support, the award is not too far out of reach.
Building on Each Others’ Strengths
Relying on his wheelchair for mobility, his friends, family, and community have given nothing but strong support for everything that Jovin Tan has been trying to achieve. It may have started off as a way for a frustrated 15-year-old to get away from an equally frustrated father, but it was also thanks to the angst that he found the gift for sailing.
Jovin believes that despite his disability, he is not a bystander. He refuses to be one. As many times as others regarded him as a burden, he had a strong belief in his personal strengths.
And we should all, abled or disabled, build on that.
“I intend to organize open regattas for regional sailors where able-bodied sailors can participate, either as a crew to a para sailor or as an individual to influence the organizers of future Asian Games and South-East Asian Games to feature a category where both para and able-bodied sailors can compete together,” he shares.
Fueled by his beliefs and passion for sailing and humanity, he has run basic sailing courses for able-bodied University students and deaf Singaporeans. The sessions focus on each person’s strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses.
And that’s one of the best ways to make this world a better place.
Here are a few questions we, from TheExpatFairs team, asked Jovin.
Q: You are a person who has survived adversity and enjoys the thrill of overcoming them, what other factors have had an influence on you? How have they helped you beat the odds you’re up against?
A: After discovering sailing quite by accident because it was a free course, the fire built upon itself after a few achievements under my belt. On the water, my disability was no longer a point of consideration. My passion was. I was determined to do well every time and got the chance to create a name for myself through sailing. Because my mother played a pivotal role in helping me become the person that I am today, the desire to make her feel proud is also another factor. I feel that in proving my abilities to myself and others, the power to empower others lies in my hands.
Q: Who are the people you especially love and care about in your life? How has that love impacted your life?
Giving Up is Not an Option
“I just tell myself that there is nothing I can’t do and I can’t give up. One day I will even drive my own car. And I will have my own family.”
Those are the words that Jovin Tan tells himself whenever things get difficult. While winning coveted titles and awards are great accolades, one of his proudest moments was being the first sailing coach with a physical disability in Singapore.
That, in itself, was a historic moment.
Powering on, he hopes to rally up enough support to obtain a Powered Pleasure Craft Driving License in Singapore. Every move and achievement he makes, he realizes, is a nudge forward for the future of people with disabilities all over the world. By helping the authorities better understand the needs of people with disabilities in Singapore, the general public can better see that people do not need to be born physically perfect to win.
And that is why he needs the support and help from organizations like the Singapore Disability Sports Council, Changi Sailing Club, and families of people with disabilities. If not for them, Jovin Tan may not have been the skilled sailor that he is today.