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Taking down, fixing up and paying it forward

Photo: Andy Chua

Physiotherapist by day and national freestyle wrestler by night (and early morning), Lou Hong Yeow shares how he juggles these two fields and the ways in which they complement each other.

Decked in his Changi General Hospital (CGH) scrubs and providing rehabilitative care to patients, one might not be able to tell that Physiotherapist Lou Hong Yeow is a 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games bronze medalist in freestyle wrestling. And toggling between the two very different roles is a daily affair for him.

On a typical training day, before his work at CGH starts, Mr Lou trains for 1.5 hours at Bedok Sports Hall, before heading to the hospital. Training continues after work for another two hours from 7pm to 9pm before he heads home. There is respite during the weekends when Mr Lou gets some time to rest and catch up with his loved ones.

It is this dedication to his craft that has propelled Mr Lou in his dual pursuits. He started out in wushu and Chinese martial arts in secondary school and subsequently explored other combat sports such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, mixed-martial arts and muay thai. He was later introduced to wrestling by a friend. “My earlier successes in the local wrestling scene spurred me to develop further in this sport. It has always been my dream to represent Singapore in the major international competitions such as the Olympics,” says Mr Lou, who has been representing Singapore in the sport since 2013. “The motivation to represent our country and doing what I love keeps me going.”

Photo: Sport Singapore / Stanley Cheah

Wrestling on the international stage

Mr Lou has participated in numerous championships, including the Southeast Asian Championships in 2014, 2018 and 2019; 2013 Commonwealth Championships; Asian Championships in 2019, 2021 and 2022; 2019 World Championships; and SEA Games in 2019 and 2022. In addition to his 2019 SEA Games bronze medal, Mr Lou’s best accomplishments include placing fourth in the SEA Games 2022 and seventh in the Asian Championships 2019. “One of my goals is to be the best in Southeast Asia before I retire,” he reveals. Mr Lou enjoys the grit and hustle of being an athlete. “My competitive streak constantly pushes me out of my comfort zone, and has shaped me to be able to perform better under pressure.”

Road to therapy

From 2015 to 2017, Mr Lou suffered knee injuries from wrestling and had to undergo several surgeries. Due to the extent of his injuries, he was sceptical about being able to return to high-performance sports. Post-surgery, Mr Lou focused on intensive rehabilitation. He worked closely with physiotherapists and stayed committed to his recovery even as he experienced doubts. Eventually, he managed to recover and returned to competing in 2018, and won the SEA Games bronze medal in 2019.

Mr Lou graduated with a business diploma from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and had initially wanted to pursue a degree in accountancy or business. “However, the experience I had with the physiotherapists left me deeply inspired and grateful,” he shares. “To pay it forward, I felt that being a physiotherapist would allow me to help my fellow athletes.” He decided to pursue physiotherapy, and was offered a healthcare scholarship. Mr Lou adds that he then chose to join CGH because of its strengths in sports medicine and rehabilitation.

Since beginning his career at CGH, Mr Lou has had the opportunity to care for patients requiring physiotherapy for various medical conditions. “My skills as a physiotherapist can be used to benefit more than just athletes,” he explains. “I find satisfaction in helping patients regain their function and quality of life.”

Photo: Sport Singapore / Stanley Cheah

Complementary passions

Mr Lou finds that his work as a physiotherapist at CGH has equipped him with the knowledge and skillsets to not only provide his wrestling teammates with advice or solutions for injuries, but also allow him to better manage his own injuries. He is able to better understand the wrestling sport in terms of biomechanics, sports performance and injury prevention.

He is full of praise for the positive work environment at CGH, which has enabled him to pursue his passion. “My colleagues have been supportive in my sports endeavours by allowing me the time and space to train and compete in the lead-up to competitions when training can be intensive,” he shares.

“With the strong support from CGH, I am glad that I can continue to compete as an athlete for Singapore.”


Taking down, fixing up and paying it forward