Bubbly with the brightest smile, it’s hard not to like Chelsea Sim, the 28th SEA Games gold medallist for the women’s individual taekwondo poomsae finals. Dressed in a pretty black dress and strappy platforms, the petite athlete eyes twinkled when she greeted us at Cola Café in Paya Lebar Square.

Busy doesn’t even begin to describe Chelsea. The hardworking SMU student currently has to juggle an internship and taekwondo training, which happens six times a week with only Fridays off. However, positive and driven, her hectic schedule doesn’t seem to wear her down.

“I usually reach home after 10pm; and now with my university internship, it gets even more tiring due to the rigid nine to six schedule. But I’m not the sort who can sit still anyway.”  She chimes cheerily as she digged into her bolognese lasagne and Oreo milkshake.

In between mouthfuls, she mentioned how thankful she is that a strict diet is not something she or her fellow Taekwondo peers have to follow unlike other sports. Supper with her teammates is always on her agenda after training, and when asked about her favourite food, she had trouble deciding.

“I have no specific dish that I love but I do like going to cafes and food like truffle fries–or Korean barbecue! One of my favourite cafes is Lola’s Café. There’s also a new ice cream shop near my house that just opened, which serves reasonably priced waffles and ice cream.” 

Like any other 21-year-old, the young adult is still deciding what to do with her life. “I would most probably be following my degree and taking on an office job, but at the same time try my best to give back to the federation by helping to mentor my juniors and continue to train as much as possible.”

Her most memorable competition was the SEA games in Singapore where she won her gold medal. “It was really great because my family could finally watch me compete in an international competition, as most of the time these international competitions are held overseas. I was so happy when I walked out and saw them at the stands holding a “GO CHELSEA”  banner. And when I carried out my routine, I could hear my mom cheering. It was really heart-warming.” 

One should not be fooled by her small built though. The poomsa-trained martial artist can throw a mean punch. While she doesn’t formally train for taekwondo sparring, Chelsea did try her hand at it for a month last year where she sparred against two trained taekwondo sparrers.

“Everyone was discouraging me for taking part in a spar as they thought I couldn’t win. Even when I went to the competition, people were (jokingly) telling me I was at the wrong place. It did affect me but also spurred me on into training even harder so I could proof them wrong.” 

And proof them wrong she did. Despite the fact both her opponents towered over her (they were around 1.6m tall and weighed at least 5kg heavier than her), Chelsea managed to win them gracefully. She even knocked out one of them with a swift kick to the head. Certainly not a girl to be messed with.