Franciscan Sister Linda Sim may be pocket-sized but she can sure pack a punch.
Last month the 67-year old swapped her rosary beads for her black belt and became the first Singaporean to win a gold medal in the World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships.
In the martial art Poomsae, the athlete performs a sequence of moves to fight an imaginary opponent.
“Jesus is my first love and taekwondo is my passion, because it gives me an opportunity to meet with lots of people in a non-churchy way.”
Sr Linda beat six other athletes to take the gold in the over 65 years category for women.
The petite missionary and taekwondo instructor to children now dreams of creating a 70 years and over category.
“Jesus is my first love and taekwondo is my passion, because it gives me an opportunity to meet with lots of people in a non-churchy way. And it makes me feel like I’m not over 65,” Sr Linda told The Straits Times.
The fifth-dan black belt holder who has coached children with cancer in the martial art first took it up for self-defence as a 17-year old. “I found it fascinating,” she said.
She continued to practise after she joined her order of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) 43 years ago, and began competing in international competitions in 2011 when she was just over 50 years old.
She’s since competed in more than 25 international competitions and won more than 30 medals, including a bronze medal in the 2018 World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships.
In addition to her religious duties, Sr Linda trained three times a week before securing the gold medal last month.
“It doesn’t matter whether I am 67 or seven, standing at the podium in the gold medal position, I just felt on top of the world,” she said.
Asked how she marries her religious vocation with her sporting passion, she explained that “for me, God, religion and life are always one”.
“My first words when I wake up each morning are ‘Thank you Lord for a new day’, and when I step into the competition arena, my first words will be ‘Lord, let’s do this together’”.
A “major milestone” in her religious and sporting life was meeting Pope Francis and performing a demonstration for him with her taekwondo team in 2018, before receiving his personal blessing.
“My first words when I wake up each morning are ‘Thank you Lord for a new day’, and when I step into the competition arena, my first words will be ‘Lord, let’s do this together’,” she said.
“When I meet a difficult opponent, I say ‘God help me’, and when I meet a person who is difficult to love, I say, ‘God help you’.”
“When I finally meet God, I would kyung nae, which is the command for bow in taekwondo and I would say ‘Thank you my beloved, I have come home’.”
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