Tuesday, 10 December 2013

From the other side...

I've not mentioned this in my blog before but I started a small coaching service for triathletes in Malaysia specifically for those aiming to race in a half Iron or full Iron distance. It was something I have been thinking about for a couple of years now but I didn't make it happen until sometime middle of this year. I've done triathlons for over 10 years now and although I've had my fair share of training and racing experience, coaching is a different ball game altogether and I'm conscious of imparting wrong information. As we all know, what works well for an individual may not work or even be detrimental for another!

Anyway, after being coached for the last three seasons under former pro triathlete Bill Scanlan in Perth, and currently by Sheri Fraser, the grand dame of Ontario triathlon, I decided to take the plunge and see if I can give something back to the Malaysian triathlon community. As I'm geographically thousands of miles away, technical aspects like swim stroke analysis was going to be difficult. So I roped in my brother, a former state swimmer, to conduct these sessions for me. All my athletes were impressed and most made separate arrangements with him to have ongoing sessions. From there, it took off further through word of mouth and referrals, he's pretty much booked out for most of the week with stroke correction sessions. It's great to see my baby brother (okay, maybe not so baby anymore) having such a success with this.

Coaching athletes was definitely not without it's challenges. There are many things I've taken for granted as an athlete myself. I've been blessed to be given the opportunity to train overseas, with world class facilities and top notch infrastructure e.g. a 75km bike path with no interruption from road traffic. Li-Ann is very supportive and quite often, she's occupied with her research work, so I don't feel too guilty being away and logging the long miles during the weekends. Yes, I have it easy and it did take me a while to realise that the athletes I coach have it different. Very different. One's a pilot who travels several times a week. The other works night shifts. And finally, another one gets last minute calls for business trips. Plus the heavy traffic in Malaysia suburbs makes it almost impossible to log in mid week outdoor workouts. And with young families, long training hours on the weekends would be a massive hurdle to overcome.

But hats off to these guys for being determined and pulling through these challenges. The past few months of coaching came to the final test in the past couple of weeks. One competed in Challenge Laguna Phuket, the other two at Ironman Western Australia. I've never been so anxious tracking live results before! The end result? I'm happy to say each one of them achieved their goals... and more. I've always had my heart skipped a beat each time I see a finisher line or a finisher medal picture. But seeing pictures of these guys celebrating their race finishes is even more special... much more. I felt that a part of me crossed the line with them!

But the credit should really go to them. The effort is mostly theirs and they all deserve the rewards. Congratulations and well done, guys! You guys inspire me. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share this truly humbling yet invaluable experience with you. I'm already looking forward to the 2014 season. With Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya and Ironman Langkawi making their comeback, I hope to be able to work with many more to achieve their goals.

In the meantime... for those looking for a triathlon coach, you know where to reach me *wink*

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