Meet the new taekwondo world champion who is a 67-year-old nun

Standing just 4ft 11in tall, the religious little sister knows how to hold her own.

A sister from Singapore, who weighs less than 110 pounds, says, “I’ve always been small and short. If I can run and kick, I don’t need to carry a gun to defend myself.

Sister Linda Sim explains that despite being short, “I am the weapon”, according to an article by TNP Singapore.

While she joined the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Maternity 43 years ago, she still practices her craft, and to an impressive level.

Now you may be wondering if there is a conflict between practicing a martial art and dedicating your life to God as a nun. However, Sister Linda shares that, for her, “Poomsae (a sequence of moves in taekwondo) is an art form and for me, it’s like a dance. It is not violent and the motto (of the world authority) of World Taekwondo is “peace is more precious than triumph”.

Interestingly, she draws on the saint who inspired her order to explain: “…Saint Francis said the prayer ‘Make me a channel of your peace’. Taekwondo allows me to reach people in a non-religious language. (While the famous “Prayer for Peace” is often mistakenly attributed to St. Francis, members of the Order of Friars Minor often rely on prayer.)

Become world champion

In April 2022, the holder of the fifth dan black belt (in modern Japanese martial arts, holdersof dan ranks often wear a black belt); was able to use her skills to become the first Singaporean to win a gold medal at the Taekwondo Poomsae World Championships held in South Korea.

Unlike many other martial arts, this defensive sport requires the athlete to fight against an imaginary opponent (one can’t help but wonder if Sr. Linda claimed she was fighting some kind of demon, or maybe be the devil himself!). And she beat six other competitors in her age category to become the world champion among the over 65s.

On winning the impressive title, Sr. Linda shared:

“I felt on top of the world as I reached a milestone in my taekwondo journey. I felt great as this is the first time Singapore has won a gold medal and I also felt a great feeling of gratitude to God.

David Koh, Acting President of the Singapore Taekwondo Foundation (STF) also said, “The Singapore Taekwondo Federation is very proud of it. She is also a shining example to our young-at-heart Singaporeans that sport is for everyone.

Action-packed sister

It seems that Sr. Linda has always been drawn to action. As a young girl, she wanted to join the police or become a soldier. She was discouraged when she discovered that women were more involved in office work.

Thus, the young woman went from pursuing a dream of saving lives to saving spiritual lives instead. Despite her mother’s concerns, Sr. Linda felt a call to serve God. Her mother feared losing a daughter and it took her more than 10 years to come to terms with her decision. But as the athletic sister explained:

“I went to all the parties and did all the sports, but there was an emptiness inside of me. I kept feeling this emotion that God was calling me and I only found peace. after joining the sisters.

While the sister has traveled the world with her work, including a 17-year stint in England working in a convent and three years as a hospital administrator in Zimbabwe, it was 15 years ago when she worked with children suffering from cancer that she began to take her passion for sports more seriously.

In fact, the STF was teaching taekwondo to children who were battling cancer at the Assisi Hospital that the FMDM had founded in Singapore. The next thing the sister knew was that she was getting coached by the STF itself, to help her with her teaching.

Little by little, she realized she wasn’t too old to take the sport to the next level and ended up competing in South Korea.

“After seeing gray haired ladies compete, I thought I wanted to train to represent Singapore as I am very proud to be a Singaporean.”

Although Sr. Linda is busy coordinating the missionary work of the FMDM sisters in Singapore, she has also given time to participate in 25 international competitions, winning an impressive 30 medals.

The world champion was actually expected to train three times a week ahead of her final competition, and although she’s been ailing from wear and tear, she insists “age is not an issue for me”.

The nun, who would normally have passed retirement age, does not seem likely to hang up her black belt anytime soon. On Saturdays she coaches children and as a parent Mrs. Pamela Lim pointed out:

“Sister Linda is a very good role model for young children. We can see her passion and commitment to taekwondo and all the work she does as a Catholic nun.

Hopefully Sr. Linda will have many more years ahead of her to use her passion for Taekwondo as a tool to inspire others.

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