General Sport & Adventure

Chung Hyeon to face the tough road ahead after becoming first Korean to reach AO Semi-finals

Chung Hyeon just defeated Tennys Sandgren to become one of the youngest singles player and the first Korean to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Up next, he will be facing either Roger Federer or Tomáš Berdych. When asked which player he’d rather go against, he is undecided, or in his words “50-50”.

What the young Chung will have to face in the near future are greater challenges than either Federer or Berdych. Whilst Chung was playing Djokovic only two days ago, the commentators freely admitted that they knew next to nothing about this young fella. There were only two known aspects of his life then – (1) Chung Hyeon took up tennis due to issues with his eyesight as a child. (2) He was training in harsh conditions in Thailand just a month prior to his outstanding performance in Australian Open.

Chung vs Djokovic USA today


Asian Media

Now that he has written history in the textbook of the Gram Slam down under, the road he faces ahead will be tough. Mass media is never easy on the famous. In Asia, the ferocity can be twice as harsh. The pressures of fame once nearly destroyed a young athlete in China. Liu Xiang, the Olympic Hurdler created a new record and became China’s first gold medalists in the track and field event in 2004. It was an unexpected win and for a young man of 20, he won fame and fortune overnight. Within 4 years, the pressures of obtaining a second gold medal in home ground Beijing during the 2008 Olympics finally cracked him. He walked off the tracks after a false start, dashing the hopes of the most populous nation in the world.

I’d imagine as I am typing my thoughts on this blog, sports journalists around the world will be frantically searching for information about this new young gun. It won’t be long before his Wikipedia page will be completed with the names of his mum and dad, brothers and sisters, current and future partners. His iconic white glasses will be featured in fashion magazines and spectacle stores all over South Korea. The advertisements will follow along with quotations, social media and finally, the haters.

The Birth of a Star

In my opinion, Chung Hyeon has the makings of a new star. He plays with the resilience of Novak Djokovic – reaching out for the ball even when it looks like a lost point. His strategy is varied and well executed, he has areas where he can further improve to enhance his prowess. Chung has the calmness and focus of Federer, rarely showing emotions on court and never undermining his opponent. He has the humbleness the young and talented Nick Kyrgios lacks. I do hope with all my heart that Chung Hyeon will have the inner strength of Serena Williams to withstand the wrath of haters and the bigots that is coming his way.



Book Reviews

Book Review: The Lost Pages

The Lost PagesThe Lost Pages by Marija Peričić
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is easy to read, short and sweet with a strong plot and plenty of hooks that kept me going. I finished the book within a day.

I am particularly impressed by Peričić’s description of the thoughts and actions of a jealousy. It is brutally frank and must be relatable for anyone who has ever been envious of their peers. The obsessive thoughts of the protagonists are also powerful and convincing.

The concept of the book is courageous and imaginative but in some ways the bravery of the author may well be her downfall. Peričić uses two notable individuals and modifies their history in an artistic manner, giving her novel an interesting dimension. Should her two main characters be entirely fictitious with no links to Max Brod or Franz Kafka, the idea of this book would be unoriginal at best. Thus the creativity of The Lost Pages relies heavily on the manner in which Peričić interpreted and altered history.

Personally, I am very uncomfortable in her choice in modifying the integrity of Max Brod. Whilst I am not acquainted and can never befriend Brod, from all documented facts he seems to be a man who had made significant contributions to the literary world. Furthermore, he was a Jewish Czech born with a physical defect that must have made him suffered his whole life and he survived an era when his race endured so much hardship. It is difficult to justify a decision by the author to further demonise his personality simply to fuel the marketability of this novel.

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General Sport & Adventure

If You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try and Try Again

I grew up in a country where the highest point was less than 550 feet. As a child I was barely interested in walking to the nearest bus stop. While I have always been athletic, the concept of hiking through snow-capped mountains was an activity that only existed in inspirational posters and blockbuster movies.

Humble Beginnings

My first hike in the wilderness came about through naivety and youthful optimism. I was 25 years old travelling through South America. My fellow backpackers were experienced hikers, but deceived by my sporty physique they allowed me to tag along a 3-day hike in Torres del Paine. A 19-year old English girl who grew up in Malawi was my tent mate. She wasn’t nearly as clueless but she was a little less than hiking fit. Together, we made a magnificent ‘dumb and dumber’ pair. We got lost but with an ignorant confidence we powered through and completed the walk with only damage to our pride. Despite the hardship I found the hiking enjoyable and took it up as a hobby.

Fast-forward 11 years. I have climbed Mount Kinabalu (Malaysia) and Roraima (Venezuela). I have ventured into Everest base camp, Machu Picchu, Mount Cook National Park and ambled through the Tien-shan ranges in Kazakhstan. While I wasn’t prepared to become a technical climber, I yearned for greater heights and to push my capacity to its limit. One day, a colleague mentioned ‘Aconcagua’, one of the highest trek-able mountains in the world that was accessible to mere mortals like me. I knew immediately that the 22,840 feet summit of the Aconcagua would become the greatest climbing goal of my life.

First Aconcagua Attempt

I devised a training plan based on suggestions of seasoned climbers. Twice a month, I would ascend 3,300 feet carrying a progressively heavy backpack, starting at 26 lbs. In my last practise run, I was lugging a 45 lbs. pack in an 8-hour hike. I ran 9.5 miles and cycled 65 miles a week; on top of that I was continuing my full time job and my thrice-weekly kickboxing regime. By the time I arrive in Mendoza the meeting point the expedition, I was exhausted.

My first team was small; there were only 4 of us including the guide. The walk to Plaza Argentina base camp was thankfully uneventful. However, the other 2 climbers acclimatized faster then I did. In the few days I spent in base camp, my oxygen saturation level increased insignificantly. I struggled getting up to the first high camp. The guide realised I was the weakest link and sent me packing.

It was devastating. It wasn’t simply the notion of failure coupled with the months of manic training that crippled me with sadness. I felt that my guide was pushing for a speedy ascend and did not allow due opportunity for me to better acclimate before making such a harsh decision. My turnaround point was barely past 16,400 feet, a thousand feet shy of my personal best.

Second Aconcagua Attempt

2 years later, I returned for my second summit endeavour. This time round, scarred by the previous hectic training plan, I did little more than an occasional run and ride. On the plus side, my odds were better with a larger group of 13 climbers and 4 guides so the team could be split up in accordance to our abilities.

The walk to Plaza Argentina was again pleasantly uneventful. I tread cautiously, staying calm yet the threat of altitude sickness concerned me daily. Nonetheless I was sufficiently happy to break my personal record and focused on having a good time in the mountain.

Summit day was a treacherous 15-hour hike. Bad weather had demanded we leave the park a day earlier hence we had to cover the same distance with less time. That morning, we were yanked out of bed in the dark and spent the better part of the morning putting on the layers of clothing before peeling ourselves away from the tent. My memory of the first moments of the climb was hazy due to sleep deprivation, but I did remember people shouting from one end of our single file to the other. By the time we reach 19,600 feet, 3-4 people had given up and returned to camp. In my delirious mode I gritted my teeth and egged myself on.

In the chaos of fierce winds I could hear nothing by my own shortness of breathe. When we arrived at a bottom of an enormous slope, I felt myself shaking with cold and my extremities devoid of feeling. It was around -4°F with wind chill. In spite of 5-6 layers of merino and fleeces, a down jacket plus a raincoat, heat was seeping out too quickly. I asked a guide how high we were. He yelled through the wind, “6,100 metres!” (20,013 feet). All well, that’s good enough for me, I thought. I gave him a hand gesture that could only mean “That’s all folks”. He then gave me instructions to the nearest safety point where I would wait for help.

Even though my second effort was still unfruitful I was pleased with having reached a personal record height. Furthermore I made friends in perilous circumstances. The best takeaway for me was the opportunity to experience the life of a high altitude climber. I do not envisage ever attempting Mount Everest or the likes, but through vivid imagination I can understand what it must be like for people clawing their way up to the impossible. The vista of endless white peaks was a beauty that is forever imprinted in my soul because I had earned it. The knowledge that I was stretch close to the limits of my physical and mental capacity became the ultimate reward for my life as a mountaineer. With these thoughts in mind, I dream on as I make plans for a third summit bid of Aconcagua.


Love Your Inner Child

This article was first published on Medium

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” — Leo Tolstoy writes in Anna Karenina, a literary piece still considered by many as the greatest book ever written.

The principle of this wisdom indicates that in order for a family to be happy, there needs to be success in all aspects of family life — physical and emotional attraction remaining constant between the mum and dad, sound household finances, good parenting, unity in values and amiable relationship with the extended family. Failing one or more leads to unhappiness. The same principle applies indirectly to the environment in which a child is nurtured. Any form of enduring unhappiness within the domestic setting generally leads to an unhappy child.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

I grew up in a uniquely unhappy family and after a lifetime of dodging bullets I have preserved into middle age with some serious scarring but overall in sound health. Writing became a form of catharsis for me and during the years I researched on the subject of childhood maltreatment for the purpose of penning a novel, I stumbled upon a study of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. The study lists 10 specific types of trauma that can result in a child under the age of 18 feeling stressed or traumatised, potentially leading to chronic problems later in life:

Abuse — (1) Physical, (2) Emotional, (3) Sexual

Neglect — (4) Physical, (5) Emotional

Household Dysfunction — (6) Mental Illness, (7) Mother treated violently, (8) Substance Abuse, (9) Divorce/ Separation, (10) Incarcerated family member

Why is ACE relevant?

In this case study with 17,000 American participants, nearly 2/3 of adults reported at least one form of ACE, and almost 40% experienced 2 or more adverse experience as a child. Poor childhood tends to lead to negative impact on our health and quality of life, it is believed that those who endured 6 or more ACEs has a reduced life expectancy of 20 year. Overall, the CDC also reports an estimate $124 billion in cost associated with the mistreatment of children.

ACE is not a Blame Game

The study done by CDC was made with the intention of recognising and resolving an epidemic. Yet I feel that even with such compelling statistical study, every time the subject of childhood trauma is raised, there is often an immediate backlash of denial. Common remarks include:

· But that was such a long time ago

· Oh, just grow up!

· At least you had a home

· You need to stop blaming your parents for your problems

This unrelenting dismissal is perplexing to me, as though no one wants to believe that the purpose of conceding a dreadful past was not to point blame but to heal and work towards a better future.

What to do if you believe you have ACE?

It has been over 20 years since the study by CDC was completed and published. Yet there hadn’t been any known efforts of remedy or proposed solutions. It is possible that parents resent the notion that they could have been responsible for the detriments of their now adult children. Many adults who grew up with ACEs may also believe that as long as the adverse experiences were ‘forgotten’, they have since moved on and those bad memories have no relevance in their current life. Even more likely, the adults who endured a less-than-perfect childhood proceed to become less-than-perfect parents and everyone is none the wiser. Without a unified acknowledgement and consolidated effort to resolve the issue, society had somehow managed to sweep a chronic endemic under the carpet.

A quiz had been developed to help individuals understand the bearing ACE had in their early life. The quiz is developed to provide guidance so that a person may gain insight to their adult decisions and behaviours and seek help if necessary.

Acing the ACEs test

“Time does not heal the wounds that occur in those earliest years; time conceals them. They are not lost; they are embodied.” — Vincent J Felitti, researcher on the ACE study.

The ACE quiz is test that I wish I hadn’t Aced. As I look into my past with melancholy, the tremendous effort I had taken to seek treatment and heal myself is finally paying off and I look towards my future with relief and hope. While I am still unable to share the specifics of my dreadful journey, I continue in my little endeavours to publicize the merits of the ACE study to those children whose sufferings were never acknowledged. It is never too late to love your inner child.

Boxing MMA UFC WMMA Women Boxing

BATTLE OF THE UNDEFEATED: 3 Reasons to Watch Claressa “T-Rex” Shields Take on Tori “Sho-Nuff” Nelson Tonight

BATTLE OF THE UNDEFEATED: 3 Reasons to Watch Claressa “T-Rex” Shields Take on Tori “Sho-Nuff” Nelson Tonight

First published on as a guest blogger

Women have been traditionally discouraged from professional sports for a variety of reasons – from the severe pay discrimination, the constant mockery of a female athlete’s physique and the endless taunts of ‘you are never going to be as good as a man in the same sport’. Women in combat sport have been fighting back hard for years. The year 2012 became a landmark year for boxing and mixed martial arts. Olympic female boxing was inaugurated when Claressa Shields claimed her first gold medal and in that same year Ronda Rousey became the first UFC female titleholder. From thereon, women fighters continue punching hard at this impossible opponent called misogyny.

Last year proved to be another fruitful year for female combatants. Shields became the first women to headline a USA premium pay TV boxing event on March 10th when she won her first professional title. She proceeded that same year to win a world title by the WBC in the middle weight division. In April 2017, Amanda Serrano became the first women to win world titles in five weight divisions. Her stupendous achievement was matched by Naoko Fujioka in December 2017 when the 42-year-old Japanese fighter won the WBO light flyweight title. That same year, UFC saw two new female divisions – featherweight and flyweight. The year finished off with a bang when Cris Cyborg, the dominant featherweight won via unanimous decision in the title fight with Holly Holm, former title holder of world championships in boxing and mixed martial arts.

This year kicks off with a clash between two prominent figures in women’s boxing. Claressa Shields meets Tori Nelson, the undefeated 41-year-old veteran for her first defense of the WBC and IBF female super middleweight titles. If you remain undecided about becoming a fan of women in combat sport, here are three reasons to consider tuning into the fight.

1.        Young vs Old

With better health care and improvements in medical science, athletes are constantly re-defining a respectable retirement age. A 19-year age gap between two opponents in a championship fight is still rare. Shields made a dig at Nelson’s age in a recent interview, “Tori Nelson is an older woman. … She reminds me of my grandma a little bit. … I’ll give her to the seventh [round] to be respectful.” A comment like that would surely incite women athletes in their twilight years to tune in and watch Nelson teach her ‘grandchild’ a lesson. Regardless, a match between a 12-time world championship old timer versus the hot new gun will certainly be an interesting contrast in style, speed and resilience.

2.         Cracking the Zero

Both fighters are currently undefeated. Nelson, like most athletes, is probably aiming to retire with no loss to her record. Shields, on the other hand, is clearly in the early days of blazing through what is likely to be a world class boxing career, and a loss so early will no doubt be demoralizing.  There is the off chance the match will finish in a draw. However, given the aggressive style of Shields, it is likely the match will run full length.

3.         The New Face of Women’s Boxing

Shields is considered to possess the inexplicable star quality, both inside and outside the ring. Aside from her impressive performance in combat sport, she is also a source of national pride for being the first (and so far only) American boxer to win an Olympic medal twice in a row. This is a time when MMA is seducing many boxers with its sizable purses, including the recent migration of Amanda Serrano who’s MMA debut is scheduled for March 2018. Shields remains staunchly loyal to the sport and for now she still presents herself in the world of boxing with infinite enthusiasm, vigor and drive.

Hosted at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, tonight’s main event will air on the SHObox series of fights aired by Showtime at 10PM/ET.

All Sports Everything guest contributor Cyan is a former amateur boxer and the author of the novel ‘Girl Fighter’. You may find more information about her at

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Book Reviews Martial Arts MMA UFC

Review of the book “Beast – Blood, struggle and dreams at the heart of MMA” by Doug Merlino

Beast: Blood, Struggle, and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial ArtsBeast: Blood, Struggle, and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts by Doug Merlino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

By default, if a writer can describe the sport of MMA in an objective manner and is capable of bringing into light all aspects of MMA, the good, the bad, the misunderstood without the interjection of personal judgements, the book will be a 5 star for me.

This book for me rates a 3.5 star.

Doug Merlino, an established sports journalist presents this book and its several stories in a simple and effective style. He begins by introducing the sport from a layman’s perspective – how cage fighting normally appears like a barbaric activity to an outsider. He then brings in the opposing view of how each fighter are presented as warriors that embodies civilised virtues such as courage, hard work and honour. The book goes on to explore many facets of the sport including the physical and emotional backstories of various athletes, a brief history of the sport, wages and challenges of being a professional fighter onward to how the career can terminate for some of them. Overall I felt that he presented an all rounded view of MMA.

I deducted one star for one very large aspect of MMA he had failed to include in his book – Women’s MMA (WMMA). Aside from a brief mention of Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, all other women in his book played the clichéd role of girlfriend, wives and mums. HELL NO! WMMA has been around several years prior to the publishing of his book (2015). Why would he not think that WMMA is a vital part of MMA? Does he believe a woman cannot be a BEAST? This is a huge sore point for me.

The other half a point was deducted because the book zig-zags between the lives of 3 athletes and made it rather confusing for me at the start.

Towards the end, Merlino mentions how through the months of his research, he acquired a number of wisdom from the veterans of the sport. I was particularly impressed when he describes how martial arts training helps align the mind, body and spirit, teaches a fighter to manage their emotions and defend themselves from threats. This is a level of wisdom not normally available to many athletes even after years of training. And this is why I round the book up to 4 stars.

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