Just when you think you're tough enough


10 Year-Old Son Inspires Eugene Teoh Into Triathlon

Most of the time, parents play a role in influencing their children into sports. However for Eugene Teoh, the roles were reversed with his 10 year-old son who had started participating in triathlon. Additionally, the triathlon community proved to be the final straw that broke the father’s back and he took the plunge.

The late starter from Kuala Terengganu took up swimming only 3 years ago. Now at age 45, Eugene has completed triathlon races up to the IRONMAN 70.3 distances, and hopes to go the full distance when races resume. A project director of a software development company, he is blessed with his wife of 20 years and two children who are also into active lifestyle.

ToughASIA: Why did you take up triathlon?

Eugene: Actually, my son is the one that started triathlon first in 2017 when he was ten years old. After a year of being a “chauffeur cum sport director” sending him to races and training, I could see that this sport is super fun and the community is full of friendly faces.

Thus in April 2018, I got myself a bike and started swimming lessons to start on my triathlon journey. And I am glad that I went down this path as now I got to know many new friends in the triathlon circle.

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ToughASIA: What keeps you motivated to train now, even when there are no races?

Eugene: During the start of the MCO last year, I made a resolution that everyday, I must do some form of exercise. I am proud to say that after 477 days (and counting), my Strava activity calendar is still without a single rest day.

As for the training itself, I have been dabbling in several areas – increasing my cycling cadence and endurance, doing more speed work and long runs. However I still enjoy an occasional football game, a slow hike or even a badminton game with my son.

ToughASIA: Where are your favourite running and cycling locations?

Eugene: At this moment, obviously it would be outdoors! Pre-covid times or when local restrictions allow, I usually run from my house in Mont Kiara to Desa Parkcity or Hartamas in Kuala Lumpur. However, my favourite place to run and train will be Taman Tasik Titiwangsa.

As for cycling, I love Putrajaya for the rolling hills and wide roads. Genting Perez  is another route I like for the easy climb and scenic views and the awesome barley drink in everyone’s favourite coffee shop – Nam Wah!

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ToughASIA: What is the most memorable race you have competed in?

Eugene: Port Dickson Triathlon 2018 Sprint category – my first ever triathlon race. I had only learnt swimming 3 months before the event, thus swimming in open sea was terrifying. Lucky for me, I brought along a swim buoy and most of the time I was just swimming with one hand clinging onto it for dear life.

I was the last person to make it out from the water that day. When I was going to T1 to collect my bike, some of the participants were already back from their cycling to T2. Nevertheless, I managed to finish the race and surprisingly not in the last place.

ToughASIA: What is your proudest moment in your multisport journey?

Eugene: Southern Duathlon 2019 – my first ever podium finish! The race was at Gunung Lambak in Kluang, Johor and the route was super hilly. I guess I had an advantage as I was used to running and cycling around my home, which is hilly too. Not many people are used to racing on hilly routes so I was able beat most of them.

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ToughASIA: What’s the most difficult part about triathlon and how do you overcome it?

Eugene: SWIMMING! I was 42 years old and still did not know how to swim at all then. I still remember  April 2018 – the day I signed up for an adult swimming class and learnt to swim with kids 10 times younger than me. In fact, the instructor thought I was sending my kid to the class! But well, fast forward to now, I have done up to 70.3 distance triathlon and plan to do a full IRONMAN next year, hopefully.

ToughASIA: How did Team TIME play a role in your triathlon journey?

Eugene: My son is in the Team TIME Youth Development program, not me. However, observing them during their training sessions does help a lot. Thanks to their coaches namely Coach Lini, Aldrian and Jason, both of us learn a lot about triathlon racing.

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ToughASIA: How do you manage between training, races and family?

Eugene: I am blessed with a wife and two children that are also into active lifestyle. As my son is also into triathlon, going to triathlon races is sort of like a “racecation”. We also go for running together, with everyone at their own pace. In fact, last December all of us went to Tasik Titiwangsa to do our KL marathon virtual race.

The triathlon pioneer in the family is my son and I am inspired by him, actually.

Meanwhile, my daughter is a gymnast. So I guess the triathlon competition in the family is between my son and I. As of now, he is so much faster in swimming while for running and cycling, I am still on top. However, my days are numbered as now, he is 14 and getting stronger.

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ToughASIA: What keeps you going into 2021 and beyond as a triathlete?

Eugene: I am just looking forward to the end of this MCO period. I really NEED a rest day after almost 2 years of non-stop everyday activities. I still got a number of races that I have signed up and really cannot wait to race again at IRONMAN 0.3 Desaru, Powerman and Chapman’s Challenge.