My Journey from a beginner to the Triple Gold at IVP Games 2014
– My journey started just before POLITE 2012/2013. With a very little training, I represented NYP in the 1500m and 3km Steeplechase (SC) event finishing 7th and 4th respectively. It was my first ever race on track. As expected, the results were not good. But the competition became a turning point for me. It was the competitions that build up my interest in running and helped me find my focus event – 5km and Steeplechase. After POLITE last year, I began to come for trainings under Coach Tho Yow Kin. It was also this period when Ajmil (my training buddy) and I started training barefoot. Nash followed up and slowly most of my teammates.
… turning point to becoming a competitive athlete
IVP 2013 in February showed the result of training. I was 8th in my second ever steeplechase race with a time of 11:29. It was also the first time I ran a 5km race, I managed to finish 4th in 17:31. This 5km race was also my first race running barefoot. IVP gave me a good running experience as I got chance to run with many experienced and well known runners in Singapore. Training continued with a new goal to lower the time for both 5km and SC in the next competition which was POL-ITE 2013/2014.
In June 2013, NYP went to the Philippines for competition. I took part in the steeplechase and clocked in a time of 10.15 but one of the steeple height was shorter than regulation height due to some technical issues thus it could not be considered a PB (personal best). Nevertheless, running with a group of different nationality at a faster pace was another good experience. I continued training focusing on my goal. I felt a bit of pain in the hip after coming back from Philippines. This somehow affected my training as I had stopped doing intense training for about a month. During this time I did most of the easy runs. Slowly I recovered and was able to do some intense training before the competition.
The most awaited POLITE 2013/2014 – 1 year of training, 1 year of hard work, and 1 year of knowledge. Team NYP made a history by winning the POLITE 2013/14 men’s team road race trophy and I got my very first individual and team gold medal at the road-race. Two weeks later was the Polite 2013/14 Track & Field championship. My first event was Steeplechase. I won by breaking both the school and POLITE records with a timing of 10:26. Perhaps the weather was at my advantage and because I trained running barefoot; it was easier for me to run on the wet track. I also managed to record a 36:18 time to win the 10km and 16:40 for the 5km. The time broke another two school and POLITE championship records.
It was indeed a historic moment for team NYP. First time, we defended both the Men and Women’s title as we fought for it at our home ground.
POLITE season was over. Now a month to go for IVP 2013/2014. It’s gonna be a big deal, I said to myself, as I will be facing stronger runners from the universities. It’s a challenge I have to accept. Just one month… Much of the work has been done and I could not get much faster even if I train really hard. Well, then why not just relax, maintain your fitness and stay out of injuries, coach suggested. With just few more trainings, a month passed and there it came, biggest event of the year for me has arrived, IVP 2013/2014. I was a little nervous on the first day (11th Jan) which was the steeplechase event. The race began and there was no turning back. I managed a time of 10.18, broke my own school record and won gold for the team. I had another event lined up which was the 5km in a week (day3 of competition).
The 10km race was scheduled on day 2 of competition (Wednesday 15 Jan) which is between the steeplechase race on Saturday and the 5km the next Saturday. Had I known I would be running for 10km race right after 3 days of rest from the first race, I would have prepared myself accordingly. While watching the athletes doing their warm-ups, the crowd of the supporters, the cool wind blowing…I could not let it go. No matter what, I wanted to run. I was all filled with so much of excitement. Damn, it’s a race at my home ground, how can I not run for it. I decided to go for it with just 45 mins before the race. When the race began, I was running behind at my own pace with the 3 university athletes leading the pack. Slowly, I got the rhythm and closed the gap and managed to catch the leading pack. I stuck behind the pack until there were only 3 laps to go. It was the moment I was hoping for. Heads up, breathing relaxed, I crossed the finish line with a time of 34:56. A new PB and got a second gold for the team. It was a race I was not supposed to run but it was a race that I would say, the best I have ever experienced.
After 2 days of rest, it was the turn of the 5km race. Since, it was a 3rd race of the week, I was not expecting myself to push hard and lower the time. I just wanted to gain the maximum points for the team. So I started right at the back. As the race is really quick, I had to pace myself and patiently catch up with the leader. With about 3 rounds to go, I caught up with the leader and overtook him. It was a race that turned out as planned. My time was 16:33. It broke my own school record and gave me my 3rd gold for the team.
We finished 3rd overall at IVP 2013/14 behind NUS and NTU. It was a tougher competition than POLITE. Nevertheless, we had a good experience competing with the stronger runners from the universities. However, it didn’t come alone. Firstly, the biggest contribution for the success of the team came from our coaches. It was actually the knowledge provided by them that brought us to a different level. Thank you Coach Tho for always believing in me. Thank you for taking so much of care and always guiding me along. I can never thank you enough for all your effort provided to the team and me. I am really very fortunate to have you as my mentor, guiding me along.
Secondly, thank your Mr. Guru and Sir Ronnie for your continuous support and providing us with all the opportunities. Thirdly, it was the motivation from my team-mates that kept me moving forward. Thank you for your company, thank you for being the best of my mates. You guys are the reason why I will always work hard. Thank you to my supporters from the other participating schools. I don’t really know you guys personally, but seriously, I am really very thankful for your cheer at every single lap I ran at both Polite and IVP. Thank you to all those who participated in the same race with me. Last but not least, Thank you to all those who came to support me, especially my family and friends. It will not have been complete and memorable without their presence.
It was a wonderful experience representing my school Nanyang Polytechinc, wearing a blue vest, black shorts and a pair of barefoot leg.
(3 February 2014)