GRAZIA Game Changers: Diyanah Aqidah On Persisting Through Sporting Adversity

"There were moments when the thought of quitting crossed my mind, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, knowing I hadn’t achieved my goals."
The taekwondo athlete Diyanah Aqidah won a silver medal in Recognized Poomsae Women’s Individual at the 2023 SEA Games
Diyanah Aqidah wears dress from Bernadette via Net-a-porter, and her own necklace

The GRAZIA Game Changers initiative recognises the people who have been creating meaningful impact in Singapore and throughout Asia. This year, in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we invited the honorees from our inaugural edition to pass the torch to a new class of talented and spirited individuals. Meet Diyanah Aqidah, the taekwondo athlete who won a silver medal in Recognized Poomsae Women’s Individual at the 2023 SEA Games.

What does the term “game changer” mean to you?
Diyanah Aqidah (DA):
To me, being a ‘game changer’ is simply about making a positive difference. It’s leaving a mark through actions or achievements that significantly impact the field in a positive and transformative way.

How did you discover your purpose in life?
DA: I found my purpose by simply doing things that make me happy. Having my family around and pursuing my passion are the things that keep me going. It’s the joy in the little moments that adds meaning to my journey.

What are the qualities that you most value in people? How do you embody them yourself?
DA: I highly value kindness, resilience, and determination in people. These qualities not only define my core values but also shape my approach as an athlete and an individual. Kindness, to me, is an essential virtue that fosters positive connections and empathy. Resilience means maintaining an unyielding spirit in the face of failures, confronting adversity with courage, and emerging stronger from each obstacle. This combination of kindness and resilience serves as a guiding force, fueling my determination to achieve despite the challenges, both in sports and in life.

How would you say you’ve played your part to be a game changer in the industry you’re in?
DA: My contributions as a game changer in the field of taekwondo are evident through my achievements. Winning a medal in the SEA Games after 2017 and qualifying for the recent Asian Games showcase my impact. These accomplishments underscore my commitment to pushing boundaries and raising the standards within the sport. At the same time, I actively give back to the community by assisting my coach and supporting the taekwondo CCA at my secondary school.

What have been the highlights and major challenges of that journey? How did you overcome each hurdle?
DA: Securing my first SEA Games medal, especially after participating in three editions, and simultaneously qualifying for the Asian Games while also winning a silver in the World Beach competition in the same year marked significant highlights in my journey. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Challenges surfaced when I found myself not performing up to my expectations and facing losses. There were moments when the thought of quitting crossed my mind, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, knowing I hadn’t achieved my goals. In these tough times, the unwavering support of my coaches, senior teammates, and the consistent belief and push from my federation became crucial. With their backing, I made the decision to persist, continuing to push myself and intensify my training to strive for excellence.

What are some changes you’d like to see in your industry and how would you see your role in influencing them?
DA: In my industry, I hope to be able to drive positive changes for athletes. As a national athlete, my focus is not only on rigorous training and achieving success in competitions but also on actively using social media to generate interest and awareness for the sport to a wider community. By sharing our team’s story and advocating for mental health awareness, I hope to increase visibility and support for the sport. Through these efforts, hopefully there will be more opportunities created for junior athletes and pave the way for the future, ensuring our sport competes on an international stage on par with high-level athletes.

What keeps you motivated and passionate about what you do?
DA: My motivation is a harmonious blend of personal and collective elements that ignites my passion for taekwondo. On a more personal note, I’m continuously striving towards individual goals, particularly the dream of securing that elusive gold medal. However, it’s not merely about my journey—on the external front, the vivid image of our national flag soaring and singing the anthem resonates deeply. Feeling that sense of national pride and knowing I contribute to my country’s sporting legacy adds a unique dimension to the journey. It’s like having these personal and shared motivators working together, propelling me forward with a lot of heart in my pursuit of excellence in taekwondo.

What is the most valuable piece of advice or life lesson that you’ve learned?
DA: The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is the importance of resilience and perseverance. The journey in taekwondo, with its ups and downs, has taught me that success often comes with overcoming challenges. Embracing setbacks as opportunities for growth and maintaining a resilient spirit in the face of adversity have been crucial. This not only applies to my athletic endeavours but has also become a guiding principle in various aspects of my life. The ability to persist and adapt has proven to be an invaluable asset on my path to success.

What do you hope people take away from your journey as a game changer?
DA: I hope people take away the importance of perseverance, resilience, and the impact of unwavering determination from my journey as a game changer. I want to inspire others to face challenges head-on, to not be deterred by setbacks, and to consistently push their limits. Through my experiences, I aim to convey the message that with passion, hard work, and resilience, one can overcome obstacles and make a meaningful impact in their chosen field. Ultimately, I hope my journey serves as a source of motivation for others to pursue their goals relentlessly, no matter the hurdles they may encounter.