Going 'Superwoman'

Going 'Superwoman'

Sasha Christian, the No 1 female wakeboarder in Singapore, juggles her studies with world championships


Sasha Christian pulls off a trick called the air raley. She is the first Singaporean athlete to be sponsored by Red Bull.
Sasha Christian pulls off a trick called the air raley. She is the first Singaporean athlete to be sponsored by Red Bull.
Photos: Red Bull Content Pool
When Hong Kong people think about wakeboarding, most of them see it as an activity you do on holiday or on a summer boat trip. But it is much more than just a leisure sport.

Wakeboarding is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world today, especially among thrill-seeking teenagers. It combines elements of two other extreme sports: snowboarding and surfing.

Meet one of Asia's youngest and brightest wakeboarding stars - Sasha Christian.

The 19-year-old Singaporean was hooked on water sports at a young age, starting with waterskiing with her family at three. When she was five, she switched to wakeboarding as it became more popular in Singapore. Now Sasha is the No 1 female wakeboarder in the city-state.

She has competed in several Wakeboard World Cups and won medals at the Asian and world championships. In 2009, she was crowned the Asian Wakeboard Champion. Last year, she took home gold, silver and bronze medals in her first Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia.

Sasha credits a lot of her success to her family.

"My mum's always been very supportive of me. But she never pushed it on me. If I didn't want to do it, she wouldn't force me to do it," she says.

It also helps that Sasha is not the only wakeboarder in the family: her older brother, Matthew, is a competitor, too, and occasionally coaches her.

Sasha is a student at the Singapore Sports School. The school customises schedules for its student-athletes so they can participate in competitions without falling behind in their studies.

A typical day for Sasha starts at 8am. She goes out onto the boat and practises her runs until 10am. Then she heads to school for her first lesson. After that, she trains at the gym then goes back to school for another lesson, which ends at about 9.30pm.

She practises almost every day.

"Wakeboarding is very addictive," Sasha says. "It's like riding a bicycle: once you learn how to do it, you won't forget it."

One of her favourite tricks is the air raley, which she describes as "going Superman".

After she hits a wave, she allows her body to swing backwards in the air so she is parallel to the water - looking as though she is flying. "[At first], it was difficult for me to learn because I was afraid. But I was determined to meet the challenge," she says.

"Not many girls used to do that trick so I wanted to be one of the few who could do it. But I just needed to get over my fear. Now it's my opening trick."

Sasha thinks there is only a slight difference between female and male wakeboarders. "When the waves are choppy, I think guys have less trouble because they're heavier so they sink a little bit more."

Sasha has competed against men, although she usually goes up against women. When she competes against men, it's an advantage, she says, because there is less pressure to win.

But whenever Sasha does feel any pressure, she remembers why she wakeboards in the first place.

"I just remember the reason I got started, and it helps a lot. Wakeboarding was fun, that's why I did it," she says. "I'll do something because I like it. I'll never force myself to do it for any other reason. I still feel strongly about wakeboarding as I did in the beginning."


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