Landing on the pristine shores of beach volleyball, our interviewee today, Zhao Rong, thrives in the realm of sun, sand, and spirited competition. The fast-paced nature of beach volleyball, coupled with the allure of outdoor play, has ignited their passion for the sport. Join us as we dig into their journey, motivations, and insights into beach volleyball, and discover how they've embraced the "You Only Live Once" mentality to make a splash in this exhilarating discipline.
Name: Phua Zhao Rong
Instagram (IG): @zhaorong_
Facebook (FB): @phuazhaorong
1. When did you discover that this was your passion and that you were going to pursue it as far as you could?
I discovered my passion for beach volleyball when I truly embraced the challenges it offers. The sport's fast-paced nature, the need for quick decision-making, and the exhilaration of every move captivated me.
Furthermore, playing beach volleyball in the great outdoors amplifies the enjoyment. The sensation of warm sand beneath my feet, the soothing sound of crashing waves in the background, and the sun's gentle caress on my skin all contributed to a positive experience.
One aspect I adore about beach volleyball is the strong social connections it fosters. The sport demands teamwork and effective communication, leading to the formation of enduring friendships and a profound sense of community.
Embracing the "You Only Live Once" mentality, I seized the opportunity to join the national beach team when trials opened up. I knew that I would regret not pursuing this passion to the fullest, and here I am today!
2. Who/what inspired you?
Challenge and growth: Beach volleyball is a challenging sport that requires skill, strategy, and teamwork. Continuously improving my skills and working towards my goals is really rewarding and fulfilling!
Social connections: As I mentioned earlier, playing beach volleyball helped me to form strong social connections with others who share my passion for the sport. This gave me a sense of community and belonging.
Fun and enjoyment: Ultimately, the most important reason to continue playing beach volleyball is that it brings me joy and a sense of fulfillment. I know that I love the sport and enjoy playing, then that in itself is a great inspiration for me to continue as far as I could.
3. Have you participated in any major competition / events?
I haven't had the chance to participate in any major competition yet! But we're training very hard for our SEAGames in Cambodia 2023! That's the next big event coming up very very soon!
4. In your opinion, what was your best performance?
My partner and I always tried to have this "telepathy connection" on court where we look to have the chemistry to know what each other wants even without talking with words. My best performance are those days when I am able to give my partner sets exactly what she wanted and I am able to help her excel in her best spikes. There's also days when I am able to have a "clear vision" of the opponent court, which really help me gaining points for my team! In my opinion, all these elements contributed to my best performance.
5. What’s your training like when training for a competition?
Usually we will try to increase our ball sessions to get more touches on our ball skills.
6. Do you maintain a special diet? if so, what do you eat? are there cheat days?
To be honest, I don't! I usually eat whatever I crave on day to day (Everyday felt like a cheat day to me!) For myself, I do have a slim figure, so I tried to eat more carbs and have may protein shake after gym to gain some mass so that I can have more control of my body, be sturdy on sand and hit harder spikes. I am a huge sugar tooth, but I try to cut down on sugar as I know that it can really slow down my body and have a negative impact on my training and competition.
7. When not training for a competition, what’s your training like? do you cross train? what does a typical week look like?
A typical usual week for me is just training, work, eat, sleep, and repeat. HAHAHA! We do have trainings 6 times a week, and gym every alternate days on weekdays. Our trainings start at 645am and ends around 3hrs later. Usually, I would leave training early at 8am for work, but I would try to go on gym session after work if I am unable to make it for morning training. And after all the training with working, I am really too tired to do anything after work so usually I will try to sleep around 9-10pm everyday. That's my typical week!
8. Do you see yourself as an inspirational role model for aspiring athletes?
I would definitely hope I can be an inspirational role model for aspiring athletes one day, but for now, I really do not see myself as one yet. I've only been on the beach team for less than 1 year and there's still so much to learn from my coach, assistant coaches, and teammates!
9. Where are your favorite training spots (Singapore or anywhere else in the world)?
When it comes to training for beach volleyball, two locations stand out for me. Firstly, the beach volleyball court at Stadium gives me a sense of national pride, as it is the training ground for all national athletes from different sports. The picturesque view and serene environment further add to the charm of the location. Secondly, Sentosa offers an ideal training environment for beach volleyballers, with its proximity to the ocean and strong sea breeze. The vibrant community of beach volleyball enthusiasts at Sentosa keeps my passion for the sport alive.
10. If there are readers who would like to get started in your sport, what advice do you have?
I would say, just do it! Just enjoy the sports, enjoy the process of improving, enjoy the games. Learn your basics the right way (it'll definitely help not only for future advancement but also be able to prevent long term injuries). If you're interested in learning Volleyball or Beach Volleyball, you can also reach out to me for personal advice! Do not be hesitant to take up a new sport, who knows! You might be the next legend. I can only say, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
11. Have you always been fit and fab? was there a time when you were not? can you tell us more about that?
I was not necessarily considered fit and fab during my first 10 years of my volleyball journey. Back then, I was still competing in competitions and going for school and club training, but I had zero interest in working out outside of training. I did not see the point because I just love the sport, as long as I am able to ball, fit or not, it doesn't matter to me. During COVID Circuit Breaker, my body clock became so bad that I was only sleeping from 6 am to 2 pm, and I was having my dinner at 2 am. Plus the fact that we're not able to go out for exercise or ball; I gained weight uncontrollably. Until a point when I look at my habits and tell myself that what I am doing is damaging my body and this is not acceptable. I do not want to go through this kind of lifestyle ever again. So I started going for a run (when we're able to leave our house) and doing some light home exercise I can find on YouTube. Can you imagine during my secondary school 2.4 km run, I used to clock 10-11 mins at my peak. But that first run I did in forever, I took 11 mins to run 1 km! And I was struggling to even finish that 1 km run, but I still did not put much priority into keeping fit. I just wanted to be a little healthier compared to before. That's only until I started playing Beach Volleyball. It was a totally different sport from the volleyball that I have known for the past 10 years. From 6 players on the court to only 2, you and your partner, I really could not continue playing the whole game of 21 points with my stamina and body condition at that time. We're really always doing something during a rally, if I am not blocking, I will be setting or defending or spiking. Unlike indoor when you can "rest" when the ball does not go towards you, you're constantly moving in beach. It's really just the two of you against the world; and I understood the saying "A team can only be as strong as their weakest link", and I for sure do not want to be one. Afterwards when I joined the national team, I started going to the gym twice a week, and we had to run after almost all of our training. That's when I am able to become closer to fit and fab. I am still not quite at the fit goal that I wanted to be at but at least now I am slowly getting there! Hope this short story is inspiring to the readers out there, and don't be like me! It's really easier to be constant rather than starting when your body can't take it anymore.
12. Do you have anything else about yourself you’d like to share (eg other non-sport passion, hobbies, interest?
In my free time, I love to try new viral cafes, do some shopping, lie on my bed and watch Korean dramas and variety shows. Other than being a national beach volleyball player, I'm really just like the normal people out there! My only other passion is that I love design and fashion. I studied Design in both poly and University and I really enjoy doing graphics and videos for social media. I love to dress up, take some Instagram-worthy pictures haha! And my long-term dream is to design clothes and open my very own online fashion brand and do it as my full time. But that's still only a dream for now~ That's mostly about me!
From the sun-soaked beaches to the fast-paced courts, our interviewee's journey in beach volleyball reflects a profound love for challenge, growth, and the joy of competition. Despite being a newcomer to the national beach team, their dedication shines through. They aspire to inspire, driven by the belief that taking that first step into a new sport can lead to unexpected greatness. Beyond the sands of the court, they find delight in design, fashion, and the simple pleasures of life. As they continue to chase their dreams and share their passion, we can't help but be inspired by their unwavering determination and zest for life.