Oz Titus Hong

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Age: 33
Occupation: National Rower
Instagram: @oztitus

“Since young, I’ve always liked water sports such as swimming, diving, scuba diving… I always feel that the water calls out to me.” In 2015, he represented Singapore at the SEA Games in a team sport and earned a bronze medal. Following that, he decided to switch to a solo sport: rowing. He’s currently preparing for the trials for the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines, but he also has his sights on the 2024 Paris Olympics. “That’s the big goal, but before that, there are other items on the checklist to tick off. But if I don’t make it, at least I tried, and no one can fault you for trying, right? And of course, every training, every trial that I do, I give my best. Because I want to do my best.”

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SWATCH THENERO (YOB404), $325. Necklace, model’s own.

He is a trained interior architect

Oz worked full-time as an interior architect and has worked on projects for Four Seasons, Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental and Raffles Group. But he says making the switch from design to being on the national team wasn’t that hard. “Being a designer, [I’m something of a] free spirit, so it didn’t really affect me much, but I think the whole idea of it was what I wanted and what I’m capable of.” And it helped that he was already training as a rower prior to joining the national team. The only difference is that he’s training full-time now, and pursuing interior architecture on a freelance basis. “It’s a different kind of discipline that you need to adhere to, because when you’re juggling training with a full-time job, you know you have to turn up for your job, and then you have to go and train. It goes like clockwork. But when you’re training full-time, there are certain times when you’re allowed to slack. But you cannot do it too often or you’ll become too lazy.”

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Image: Home & Decor

He trains between 11 to 16 sessions per week

His training schedule and frequency depends on the time of the year but in the end, he trains almost every day. He can take days off, but he always plans them in advance to make sure he doesn’t slack off. “I wouldn’t risk telling myself, ‘I’m going to take off today’ because tomorrow, I could say the same thing.” Who’s keeping tabs? Himself. “It’s a self-guilt thing, seriously. If I skipped today’s training, I would feel guilty.”

He wakes up at 5am almost every day

He reckons waking up early is one of the main challenges he faces as a national athlete. “Even before you’re fully awake, you’re already on the water and doing some training.” Another challenge is the lack of recognition athletes receive in Singapore, and he does what he can to change that. “There are things that I can and want to tap into that could open up avenues for future generations, be it by appearing in magazines like CLEO or Men’s Health, or by being the ambassador of a sports brand. I think it can open up a lot of doors for athletes to get engagement and support.”

 

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He has no regrets in life

He describes himself as a practical person who doesn’t believe in the notion, “if only I could turn back time”. “You can’t do that. It’s reality. So the best way to move is always forward.” This is why he believes in learning from mistakes and moving forward without regrets. “I turn the regret into something that benefits me in the future.”

He thinks being a national athlete is not just about the money

“I think being a national athlete is something that money cannot buy. It’s an adventure. After this athlete life is gone, you don’t get it back,” he explains. “I don’t want to live with regrets and when I have kids or when I’m married, and I don’t turn to myself and say, ‘I could have been a national athlete.’ Why not just do it now?”

He lives by a mantra: “No one can fault you for trying.”

He cites this advice from his good friend and national high jumper Michelle Sng as one of the best he has received. She also gave him another piece of advice that he holds close to his heart: “When I feel like quitting, I will tell myself that I can only quit on a good day, such as the end of a good training session. At that point of time, I would think, ‘OK, should I let go now?’” Confused? He cites a relatable example: “If you’ve got a s***ty job, wait till it’s bonus day before asking yourself if you’d quit. If you really wanted to quit, you’d still leave.”

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