Yoyo master — a career of ups and downs

Ryan Chung Chuan Han was named Malaysian champion in 2019 — with this goal ticked off his bucket list, he now paves way to younger yoyo players to earn their own championship name.

Covid-19 has affected many industries, including sports and entertainment. After a year without performing and having player meet-ups, yoyo master Ryan Chung shares his thoughts about the effects of the pandemic on the industry, and is looking forward to make his return.

Waiting for the right time to make a comeback

The pandemic has changed the way we live, and since a year ago, many companies either closed or had to minimise their workforce. Either way, Covid-19 not only affected health, but also the livelihood of many.

Into the second year of living with the pandemic and the second phase of the conditional movement control order (CMCO), the effects are still apparent as when it first started. As the world experienced changes, professional yoyo player Ryan Chung Chuan Han shares his journey during the pandemic.

Ryan Chung Chuan Han

As an entertainer, Ryan was always on stage, charming the audiences with his mesmerising yoyo tricks. He often put on a memorable display as he showcases his mastery in pulling the strings of his yoyo. However, when the pandemic hits, everything changed for the 33-year-old.

Ryan said that the outbreak had hit the yoyo entertainment industry hard, “In all of my years as a player, never in my life have I stopped performing or have gone inactive in promoting yoyo as a sport.” Now in his 17th year in the industry, Ryan described these days as challenging as he witness his team members and trainees stopped practising the sport. “I don’t blame them.

There was no proper support and they no longer meet friends who share the same interest.”

Nonetheless, the Malaysian yoyo champion kept encouraging his comrades to keep their interest in the sport. “It reminded me of when I first started playing yoyo. There were no friends, no support so I struggled to improve. And throughout the years, it became a challenge just to find someone to play with.”

To him, those days felt lonely and there were times when he felt like quitting. His journey began in 2004 — back when yoyo was a popular trend. However, like many trends, yoyo soon lost its popularity. Despite that, Ryan held on to the hobby although at times, there were many voices wanting him to quit.

An entertainer at heart — Ryan enjoys charming the audience with his movement with the yoyo. He is also a freelance emcee.

When he first started, Ryan said he observed his younger brother and friends, who enjoyed themselves and looked happy fiddling around with the toy. “I was like ‘why do they look so happy playing it?’. So I decided to purchase my first yoyo. It was a beginner yoyo and cost me RM20. I secretly bought it, and locked myself in the room to play it.”

After almost two decades, he never looked back, and no regrets. “If a day may come when I could not play yoyo, it would be devastating to me because yoyo has always been part of my life. Yoyo is responsible for the person that I am today.”

Ryan conceded that he was frightened when Covid-19 put a stop to everything and that it would take away his life as a yoyo performer. “However, my passion for yoyo is still strong. I am waiting for the time to make a comeback.”

Among his yoyo collection.

Spending most of his days performing on stage, Ryan admitted his love for the attention he gets, “The stage is where you will see the real Ryan Han. Another reason why I held on to this is that I met my wife through yoyo. One day, I may not be able to perform anymore, but I will never quit this hobby.”

With over 200 yoyos in his collection, Ryan revealed that he prefers yoyos that are oversized. “It has more grip, and it feels smooth. On the other hand, an undersized yoyo is difficult to control. I could not catch it properly and at times, I could not feel it coming back.”

According to Ryan, the dimension for an oversized yoyo is 57 millimetres. An undersized one usually measures between 52 and 54 millimetres, while the standard is 55 millimetres. He also said that each yoyo is distinguished by size and speed.

All about chasing your dreams

As a yoyo player, after 17 long years, Ryan said that his father still does not approve of his ambition. “But, my late mother once told me, no one can determine who you are but yourself. A dream is something you chase, not someone else’s dream, but your own.” During his school years, Ryan was a promising badminton player, and often represented his school in tournaments. “Mum encouraged me to become a badminton champion, saying that if it was my dream, I should pursue it. She often reminded me that it was dreams that keep us alive.”

The advice became the main motivator in Ryan’s life later on, and his mother’s words soon became the engine that runs his yoyo course. “People told me I can’t go anywhere with this, but she said just do it. She constantly told me not to do things half-heartedly, that if I wanted to play, I should do it until I am good at it. Of course, back then she had to control my budget too, otherwise I would spend all of it on yoyos.”

Ryan recently appeared on Borak Teh C Peng Episode 26 where he talked about his yoyo journey during the TVS talkshow.

Ryan then made it a point to follow his dreams. “It is the very thing that keeps us alive. Life would be meaningless without one,” he added. Aiming to be the national champion, he finally achieved his highest feat in 2019, when he was declared the Malaysian champion.

Sadly, his mother could not witness his greatest achievement. “My mom passed away in 2009.

She didn’t get to see her son become a champion. Coincidentally, a week after her passing I had to travel to Kuala Lumpur for a championship event. It was so hard at the time, my heart was sinking. It was hard for me to concentrate as well.”

However, the words of his mother lives on in Ryan’s heart. Over the years, Ryan continues to keep his passion alive as he journeys through the ups and downs of his career. Even when the pandemic hits, Ryan still looks forward to his future in the industry, taking the time off to improve himself as a player and a person. He also made a promise to the yoyo community, “I will be back.”

Sarawak yoyo players during an event held in 2018.