“ It has been said that those who do triathlons are a special breed of people …”
Triathlon. To the unfamiliar, it is a crazy venture. Swimming, cycling, running all in that order. You mean I must swim then cycle and finish off with a run? What kind of torture is this? Why can’t we do just one sport? That’s where the difference comes in. It has been said that those who do triathlons are a special breed of people or are just totally out of their minds. No matter what you call them, triathletes are ones to be admired and some aspire to be able accomplish what they do. There are some who do not know how to swim or ride a bicycle. That effectively rules them out of doing triathlons. That’s why some of us admire these amazing athletes.
I am a cyclist. A road cyclist at that. I would rather cycle than run or swim. When I picked up cycling in 2009, there were not many road cycling events to participate in. Even if there was one I could join, it was events like duathlons and triathlons. But I couldn’t swim very well and my running was just as bad. So, I never paid attention to these events. Until I discovered there was a relay category. Hooray! I roped in a few friends and decided to take on the challenge of duathlons. The relay concept would work in which a friend would run and I would cycle. Another friend would finish off the distance in the final leg. Slowly I participated in more multi sports events and one eventful day I completed a relay triathlon race in Port Dickson.
My son was 8 years old at that time, noticed the kid’s category and was intrigued. He asked if he could participate in it next year. I gave a resounding yes. He was pretty good in swimming and cycling but disliked running. Through a friend’s recommendation, I came across Jessen Lee and Sue Teoh who coaches kids’ triathlons. My son joined the Kids of Steel Triathlon Club. The two coaches imparted skills and knowledge for him to complete his first triathlon. Soon enough the triathlon rolled up on the calendar. As we drove down to Port Dickson, my son’s nervousness started creeping up. “What if I don’t win?” he asked. Even at the age of 9, the pressure of winning was already building. My wife and I reassured him that it was his first time so not to worry about winning. We told him to remember his coaching and he would do great.
During a kid’s triathlon event, you will see parents running up and down giving encouragement and taking pictures. So much so that the parents end up running more that the kids doing the event. My son heard stories of participants being kicked in the face during the swim leg. He decided on his own to stay away from the pack. So, he ended up swimming a longer distance than he needed to. Out of the water and into T1(first transition swim to bike). No issues. He clipped on his helmet, hopped on his BMX and off he went. He had always been a careful rider so he stayed away from the speed demons on the bike leg. Also, the BMX was a single speed so he could only go so fast. Into T2 (bike to run) and he was flying!!! After a short run round the run route he was coming down the finishing straight. As he crossed the finish line he was all smiles. My wife asked “How was it?” My son replied “Mummy, can I do it again next year?”
My wife got inspired by our little bundle of courage and told me that she wanted to try out a triathlon. Of course, I gave her the thumbs up. She took some swim lessons to help with her freestyle and soon discovered that she could do the distance using breast stroke. Then came her very first triathlon in Desaru, a mini distance one for newbie triathletes. At the finish line the triathlon bug had bit. She then signed up for the Sprint distance triathlon and completed it. The next race, an Olympic Distance triathlon. She even wrote down that she wants to complete a Half Ironman.
Now all of us are into triathlons. My family, a special breed or are we just crazy?
Cheong Yue-Jin is an avid and experienced cyclist. He is now full time in serving the cycling community, with the intention to encourage more people to cycle, and create awareness of safe cycling. He has a cycling dream, the dream to tour the Great Ocean Road on two wheels and to see the Tour De France LIVE with his son!