Athlete of the Month – June:Singapore’s Dynamic Wushu Star Jowen Lim

Singapore’s dynamic wushu star Jowen Lim, 24, a national and international gold medal champion, specializes in changquan, and daoshu and gunshu. He’s been a six-time gold medal national champion in Singapore, and won gold medals at the 2017 and the 2023 SEA Games. With double bronzes from the 2019 World Wushu Championships, and a coveted silver at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Jowen is still at the height of his powers, leading a talented Singapore wushu team with passion, discipline and perseverance.

Wushu Beginnings


When Jowen was a kid he says he was obsessed with watching martial art films by Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen, and this was the reason he began to practice wushu. “I was only 6 years old at that time,” he recalls, “so I was basically training for fun and not thinking of anything competitive. However, I really enjoyed learning the different movements and techniques, and studying how they were used in combat by our ancestors. The wushu scene at that time was relatively small.”

Jowen participated in his first wushu tournament in Singapore when he was 8 and two years later, he won his first gold medals. “That motivated me greatly to work harder and do better,” he says. “Since then, I set goals for myself and have gotten gold in all my events for 6 consecutive years nationally.”


Jowen would come to specialize in changquan, daoshu and gunshu. “My coaches decided I was suitable for these events,” Jowen says, “as I was quite strong and fast physically even when I was young. Daoshu is definitely my favorite but I have grown to like gunshu a lot too. I do enjoy watching taiji events but clearly I am not suitable for them!”

Jowen’s debut international competition was the 3rd World Junior Championships in Singapore in 2010, where he won his first international medal. “Excluding the 2013 World Combat Games and 2018 Asian Games,” he says, “I consider myself lucky to have medaled in all the competitions I participated in up till today. However, the 2015 SEA Games held in Singapore was my favorite competition. We had one month of intensive training where my teammates and I stayed and trained together. It was special as Singapore athletes train wushu out of passion and not full time. Hence, we bonded a lot during that competition and left with a memorable experience.”


Golden Moments


Jowen would go on to win a silver in daoshu at the 2016 9th Asian Wushu Championships, and gold medals in both changquan and daoshu/gunshu combined at the 2017 SEA Games. “The 2017 SEA Games were very special to me not because I won 2 gold medals,” Jowen says, “but it was really special because I did it in front of my grandparents who went to the games to support me.”

Being a consecutive national champion and taking gold at the SEA Games would usher Jowen into adult wushu competition at the 14th World Wushu Championships in Kazan. Whether it was nerves or a simple mistake, Jowen dropped his staff during the competition. But, he says, “That incident pushed me to work harder and sharpen my skills in the gunshu event.”


Two years later in Shanghai at the 15th World Wushu Championships Jowen was determined not to make mistakes, and he faced an extremely tough field of competition. This time there was no dropping of any weapons, and he would triumph with a bronze medal in both daoshu and gunshu, though not without facing challenges.

“Competing in the world championships has always been my favorite,” Jowen says, “as I get to meet my competitors and friends from all over the world. Getting two bronzes also gave me a confidence boost in where I stand on the world stage. The preparation was pretty rough as this was the first competition I decided to add the 720 XFJ. However, I was super happy I managed to land two out of three of them during the competition. I also had to compete in the daoshu event using my teammate’s dao as I broke all of mine during the warm up for the competition! Win or lose, I like to celebrate the end of the competition together with my teammates and overseas friends.”

During the Covid 19 pandemic the sport of wushu was faced with a difficult challenge in Singapore, as it was all over the world. “I think training during the pandemic was tough for everyone,” Jowen says. “National trainings were cancelled and there was nowhere to train. There was a lot of home training involved where I video called my teammates to keep each other motivated. When restrictions slowly loosened, I’d go to the park sometimes to run through my routines.”


Jowen’s discipline, focus and perseverance found him ready when sport competition opened up again and he would find himself in Birmingham USA facing tough competition at the 2022 World Games.  There he won a silver medal in daoshu/gunshu combined. Although the prestigious multi-sport event was a somewhat different experience, Jowen notes, “To be honest, I treat every event the same as I focus only on my performance during the competition. I truly believe that an athlete just needs to perform his/her best during competition, nothing else matters. However, the World Games was really fun because I got to meet athletes not just from wushu but other sports as well.”

From Birmingham he would springboard to another victory at the 2023 SEA Games, winning a gold medal in daoshu/gunshu combined, and a silver medal in changquan. “It felt really nice getting to win a gold especially when my last SEA Games gold was in 2017,” Jowen says. “But I was most proud that I managed to complete all the routines without a deduction. I was also sick during my changquan event and it was interesting to see how I managed the situation. Staying laser focused on my techniques and performance on the carpet made me forget that I was sick.”


Wushu Challenges and Perseverance


Illness and injury haunt every athlete at some point in their career. We asked Jowen what is the biggest obstacle he has had to overcome in his wushu career, and he replied, “I would say my biggest obstacle would be when I tore all the ligaments in my ankle one day before I flew for the 2018 Asian Games. It was difficult because I sacrificed a lot preparing, and that it happened during such an important competition. When the injury occurred, I went to the doctors immediately and they had to put me in a cast. I flew for the competition the next day even though the doctors advised that I withdraw from the competition. Throughout the competition, a lot of adjustments had to be made to my routines as I could not execute some of the movements. I also was not able to test the carpet and train before the competition day as we did not want to agitate my ankle. Nevertheless, I decided to compete as I did not want to let those that have supported me down. Because of this, there were lots of painkillers and icing done for this competition.”

Wushu Life and Training


Jowen gives his coaches much credit for nurturing and supporting his wushu career. “My coaches,” he says, “mainly came from Shandong, China and we developed a close relationship as they watched me grow up since I joined the national team. My coaches trusted me as I constantly pushed myself to be better. They guided me in both wushu and in life. I have trained in both Shandong and Tianjin throughout my years in wushu. If we are lucky, we get to go once every year for a month each time. Training in China really helped as you not only learn from the coaches but also from the athletes. It has always been an eye opening and fun experience training in China as we get to live like the China athletes, training full time.”

Jowen has been practicing wushu for most of his life, nearly two decades, and we were interested to hear his thoughts on how the sport has changed since he started the sport. “I think that wushu has evolved and changed quite a bit,” he observes. “Especially the level of difficulties everyone is doing. Athletes used to only do 540 jumps in the past but now, everyone is doing 720. Athletes are also starting to get exposed to the optional routines at a much younger age. However, I feel like the need to be creative in our routines have left us drifting away from the traditional roots of wushu. But the new rules currently being tested in China for optional events have included many compulsory movements that are more traditional.”

Jowen adds, “I think that wushu has gotten more and more popular throughout the years. Especially when the Singapore wushu team continues to win medals in international competitions, this helps to increase the popularity of wushu here and is making it better known to the public. I think the biggest challenge for Singapore wushu is that we are all doing it out of passion. School and work always come first and we train on our free time. So it is difficult for us to compete against countries that are training full time.”

“I have many friends from all over the world,” Jowen says, “and I am super grateful that wushu gave me this opportunity. I usually keep in contact with my overseas friends through Instagram and Whatsapp. I even meet some of them when I travel to their countries for holiday. I love traveling and it is always fun when I get to travel with the team. Be it for competition or training camps, the experiences are always memorable. The best part to me is that I get to travel around the world with my teammates and meet people from all over. The most rewarding thing about this is that these friendships are likely to last a long time. Any time I travel to their countries, I can always look for my wushu friends and connect. Wushu also allowed me to meet my fiancée. We joined the National Team in 2010 and have been traveling the world competing together ever since. We became a couple in 2015 and the rest is history. It is a really nice feeling to share this experience with her and support each other during competitions.”

Family and Balance


“My family has always been very supportive as they often accompany me to competitions to watch me perform,” Jowen says. “They used to take me around when I was younger, going to school, home and trainings everyday.” Since his school has finished, Jowen has been lucky to able to focus on his wushu training. “Athletes in Singapore,” he says, “train wushu in their free time after finishing school and work for the day. We go to school from morning until afternoon or evening and going to training only at night. I hate studying so wushu was a really good place where I get to escape from school! But the reality in Singapore is that we have to first do well enough in school before we can do anything else. There are times where I would break down as I was unable to cope between national exams and competitions happening almost at the same time.”

In addition to his own training, Jowen also coaches young wushu athletes in Singapore. “I wish to share my knowledge and experiences I gained from wushu with the new generation of athletes,” he says. “I hope they will be better than me in future. Of course I hope that wushu being included in the Dakar 2026 YOG will greatly help raise awareness of the sport.”


Wushu Goals


Still in the prime of his career, wushu fans can likely look forward to much more inspiration from this Singapore champion. What are Jowen’s goals for the future? “I have considered that I might want to do coaching full time as a career, but it is to early to decide yet,” he says. “Wushu has greatly impacted my life as I have been doing it for the past 18 years. Most of my friends are from wushu as I spend almost all my free time with them. However, I do also wish that I can have more time to spend with my friends outside of wushu. I hope to be able to medal in the Asian Games and get a gold medal in the World Championships. I want to be a good senior and an example to my juniors in Singapore. Internationally, I hope that I can continue to make more friends and hopefully get a chance to coach overseas.”

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