Road To SEA Games 2022 Victory: Timothy Loh

The glitz, glam and glory tend to be all we focus on when we look at competitors and athletes on TV. What we often don’t get to see are the gruelling hours of training, exhaustion and weeks plagued with injury that can snatch one’s hopes of the medal in a second. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the inside life of SEA Games athlete: Timothy Loh.

Meet Timothy Loh

Timothy Loh is Singapore’s 3 sport, 110kg strongman who boasts an impressive judo black belt and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt. Having competed in Judo, combat Sambo and most recently, Greco-Roman wrestling, he is no stranger to injury. He’s a familiar face in Singapore’s local martial arts scene and spends his days coaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu while spending his evenings mixing cocktails and consulting for restaurants and bars. 

Timothy began his SEA games career in 2013, debuting for Singapore. He won 2 bronze medals in 2013 and 1 in 2015 in Judo before switching to combat Sambo in 2019. This year, Timothy has focused all his energy in the last 6 months training for Greco-Roman wrestling. As with picking up any new sport, there were a plethora of challenges he faced, with injury being one of them.

Time For Physiotherapy

Timothy came to Physio Focus after injuring his wrist from getting caught in a gut-wrenching roll out due to wrestling. From being able to benchpress 135kg, he was suddenly unable to open a door, water bottle, or grip anything with his left wrist without feeling any pain. With the National’s and SEA games coming up, Timothy worked closely with Clinical Director, Nicola Ying, to help him achieve a speedy recovery as well as work towards his goal of representing Singapore.

We also had a chat with Timothy about the struggles that he faced and eventually overcame with the help of physiotherapy. Read on to understand his experiences!

Q: Timothy, tell us about your wrist injury and your initial function compared to where you’re at now.

Initially, I felt a sharp pain but I thought I could train through it as usual. It wasn’t until a few hours later that I realised there was some swelling and it hurt to twist or pick anything up. I couldn’t even open a water bottle, it was so embarrassing!

Since starting my rehab journey, I’ve not only gotten stronger and achieved my goal of getting into the SEA games, but I’ve also been able to understand my injury and ways to compensate for it when its in compromising situations. Nicola was able to guide me through along the journey and I’m confident that I’ll only get better.

Q: So what was the first thing you did?

Panic. I called Nicola and she walked me through the steps of what to do next. I came into the clinic and consulted with her for my initial assessment. She was able to ascertain that it was a triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) injury and started working on my mobility, putting me on a strengthening program immediately.

We had no time to lose. Of course, along with the wrist and the intensive training, there were other little injuries along the way that she helped me with, but the biggest concern was always the wrist.

Q: What would you say is the most memorable part of your rehab journey and what would you advise other athletes to do in the face of an injury?

Definitely getting to perform on the big stage and be pain free! Made it all worth it! I would definitely advise on seeking help sooner rather than later. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s never too early to get an assessment done as there are so many ways we can compensate for something that might predispose us to injury. As an athlete, injury prevention is essential. 

After an intensive 3 months of training and rehabilitation with Nicola, Timothy was off to Hanoi for SEA Games 2022. He brought home Singapore’s first and only Greco-Roman Wrestling medal! Congratulations, Timothy! We’re so proud of you and so honoured you trusted us with getting you on track. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!

If You’re Struggling, It’s Okay To Seek Help

Injuries are common occurrences, be it in athletes or non-athletes and it’s important that you identify the problem immediately. If you are experiencing any injury that is concerning or stopping you from achieving your goals, don’t delay in getting it sorted. The quicker you’re diagnosed, the better your prognosis will be, and the sooner you’ll be back doing the things you love. 

Written By: Nicola Ying, B.Sc. Sports Science (AUS), B.Sc. Biomedical Science (AUS), Doctor of Physiotherapy (AUS)

Nicola is an experienced Physiotherapist specialising in neurological and vestibular rehab, shoulder rehabilitation, and injury prevention. Formerly a competitive swimmer and footballer, she has found her new passion in martial arts and is an avid Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. She also spends her free time advocating for sport inclusivity and disability awareness.

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