Commando, doctor & national hurdlerThis 27-year-old commando medical officer did Singapore proud by winning a silver medal in 110m hurdles at the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam in May – this was Singapore's first medal at the event since 1989.
//Story by Koh Eng Beng
//Photos by Amos Chew & courtesy of Sport Singapore/Jeremy Lee & 1 CDO
Here's five things you need to know about Captain (CPT) (Dr) Ang Chen Xiang, a full-time national serviceman.
1. He's broken the national record nine times
Taking part in his fourth SEA Games, the national hurdler clocked 13.94s to win the silver medal. And in the process, he broke the national record for the ninth time in his athletic career.
Earlier in January this year, he had clocked 13.97s at the Singapore National Track & Field Championships 2022 — going under 14s for the first time.
2. He started young
He was only 12 years old when his dad taught him and his younger brother (now his coach) how to hurdle.
"My dad made two hurdles using the legs of an old study table, and that's how he taught us the basics of hurdling, '' recalled CPT (Dr) Ang.
3. He is a commando doctor
In 2013, CPT (Dr) Ang enlisted for National Service (NS) and entered Basic Military Training, just like every Singaporean son.
Two-and-a-half months into his Officer Cadet training, he disrupted his NS to start his medical studies at National University of Singapore.
In January 2021, he resumed his NS and went through the Medical Officer Conversion Course. His next stop? Commando Training Institute.
There, he went through training like the Basic Airborne Course, the Commando Officer Conversion Course as well as the gruelling X72 – the Commandos' signature 72km route march that takes as many hours to complete.
"As medical officers, we're expected to insert and move alongside fellow Commandos. So we have to go through the necessary training to become a Commando too," he said.
Besides providing medical support in the field, CPT (Dr) Ang also runs the medical centre in Pasir Ris Camp. The camp is home to various schools such as the Commando Training Institute.
He described his role there as a general practitioner who takes care of the trainees' health and medical needs.
4. His focus is on improving himself
His sports training philosophy is simple: just focus on improving his timing.
CPT (Dr) Ang explained: "My goal has always been my timing because that's something I can control. When I improve my training and abilities, my timing will improve.
"But in terms of positions and winning medals at competitions, you can't really control that — if other hurdlers improve more than you, you can't control that."
When asked how he managed to do well for the SEA Games while juggling NS, he said there was an element of luck.
"I was very lucky that the SEA Games was postponed from November last year (due to COVID-19). If it had not been postponed, I'd have been out smack (in the middle of) outfield," said CPT (Dr) Ang.
For most of last year, he was undergoing medical officer cadet and commando training.
"Once I completed my necessary Army training, I was then able to squeeze in track training while juggling work as a medical officer," he said, adding that the Ministry of Defence also granted off days for him to go for overseas competitions.
He also thanked fellow medical officers from both 1st Commando Battalion (1 CDO) and Military Medicine Institute for covering his duties when he was away for competitions. "I'm especially grateful to my colleagues for the teamwork and support through my NS."
5. He wants to continue to do Singapore proud
After he completes his full-time NS later this June, CPT (Dr) Ang will start work at National University Hospital. He will also continue with his track training, and aims to compete in the 2023 SEA Games and the next Asian Games.
Asked what's his key takeaway from serving his NS as a commando, he said: "The mental fortitude built during commando training is something I value highly. It taught me that when you think your tank is empty, you really still can dig deeper and go further."
Catch CPT (Dr) Ang in action at the recent SEA Games here: