As we draw 2020 to a close, we take pensive but inspiring views on what our sporting community has achieved in 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone differently, it provided a platform to pause, reflect and move forward.

From picking new skills and sports, to gaining more knowledge about the sports they love, ToughASIA spoke to these 4 active ladies – Safiah Galgo, Grace Goay, Dr. Lynn Azura and Ann Pow who inspired themselves and others to greater heights.

Safiah Galgo founded the Malaysian Woman Runners Facebook group and continued to rally the ladies during the MCO period. She created teams and signed up for virtual runs and inspired other ladies to join in. Together, they tackled huge numbers, achieving 6,834.25KM in the Restart Malaysia Challenge and 999km in the Race for the Stars virtual runs.

ToughASIA: Did the MCO enable you to review yourself in a different way?

Safiah: Indeed, the MCO period provided a good opportunity for me to run more as I was not so busy with mywork in the insurance industry.

ToughASIA: Did the lockdown imposed during this MCO interfere with any of your plans?

Safiah: Not really.  In fact, it brings me closer to my friends living nearby. I am blessed to be living in Gombak, Selangor where there are so many places to explore.

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Safiah avidly participated in many virtual runs and inspired others to join her as well.

ToughASIA: What are your achievements for 2020?

Safiah: I was able to run more than 300km in a month, and scaled 4,000m in elevation within 2 weeks.

Additionally, I beat my Personal Best (PB) in my trail run to Pondok Repin in the Kemensah area of Selangor.

ToughASIA: What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Safiah: Definitely looking forward to more trail running and marathons this 2021.

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Grace Goay may have put on weight during MCO but managed to turn her life around and regained her fitness.

On any given year, Penang-born Grace Goay would usually be travelling around Malaysia and overseas for races in running, cycling, duathlon and triathlon. The global COVID-19 pandemic had put a stop to many sporting events, which caused Grace to put on some weight until she paused, reflected and turned her life around.

Along the way, some friends invited the graphic designer to join them hiking up to amazing panoramic views and she got to learn about some new places and faces.

ToughASIA: Did the MCO enable you to review yourself in a different way?

Grace: Yes! During MCO, there were no races and I was not able to ride and run outside, which was my weekend routine with likeminded friends. Subsequently, I lost all motivation, became lazy and gained some weight. In the end, I realised that races and events were key targets and motivations which kept me going during my training.

ToughASIA: Did the lockdown imposed during this MCO interfere with any of your plans?

Grace: MCO affected a lot of my training plans and furthermore, all the events were cancelled or postponed. To turn things around, I have subscribed to Zwift and took my cycling training to the online platform with some friends. Additionally, I started on Tabata for my stamina and endurance training.

Grace took the opportunity to start hiking with some friends to explore many new panoramic views.

ToughASIA: What are your achievements for 2020?

Grace: During CMCO, I am so glad that we were able to run and ride outdoors. Therefore, I started signing up in virtual races on the 42 Race smartphone application, Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM), and the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM) to motivate myself to restart my training. Starting from a slow pace, I slowly regained my normal running pace.

During the virtual 21km run, I was able to hit my personal best 2:03, although it was still a long way before I can hit sub-2, but I was proud of myself.

For cycling, I also signed up for a 100km virtual ride. My teammates gave me great support by pulling me during the ride, and kept motivating me to join their weekly rides. I also joined a group of friends for hiking, and the captain always motivated and invited me to join in. Catching up to their fast hiking pace was indeed a challenge for me.

ToughASIA: What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Grace: I am looking forward to races and events resuming, and also more training to hit my sub-2 on my 21km run.

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Dr. Lynn kept up with her training and fitness by participating in virtual races during MCO.

Doctors are often pictured as the perfect, healthy persons to the general public. Little do we realise that Dr. Lynn Azura puts a lot of effort into swimming, cycling and running despite her busy schedule at the hospital caring for her patients.

ToughASIA: Did the MCO enable you to review yourself in a different way?

Dr. Lynn: MCO thwarted a lot of my 2020 plans. However, it actually gave me a lot of perspective on what is truly important. For me, maintaining my fitness was the most important and the lockdown made me find different ways to achieve it.

ToughASIA: Did the lockdown imposed during this MCO interfere with any of your plans?

Dr. Lynn: Of course, I had signed up for a few runs and events, all spaced out throughout the year. Despite that, I just continued to keep my baseline fitness with consistently running at least thrice a week. And whenever it permitted, I went for stroke improvement classes to improve my swimming skills.

ToughASIA: What are your achievements for 2020?

Dr. Lynn: I did a few open water swims in Port Dickson that boosted my confidence with the open sea. I also did a 5.6km swim at a lake recently. Very proud of my farthest swim ever! I also feel mentally I am stronger because I have been running 500m loops in front of my house, which has really helped me focus on mundane tasks.

ToughASIA: What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Dr. Lynn: To improve my swimming and cycling. Hopefully (fingers crossed) I will be able to join more competitions so I can have targets to pursue. And hopefully to complete more open water swimming and and longer distances!

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Ann Pow took the time to reflect upon her training and increased her knowledge in sports.

2020 was supposed to be the year that Ann Pow culminate her triathlon journey thus far, at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand. However, the COVID-19 pandemic robbed her of that chance. Instead, the young undergraduate took the chance to increase her position in the sport.

ToughASIA: Did the MCO enable you to review yourself in a different ways: sporting abilities, sporting goals and achievements and mental state?

Ann: While being confined at home, the MCO gave me the time to reflect on my life and training and provided the opportunity to reset myself. It was also a very inconvenient period and a little depressing, as my training was reduced as all the races were postponed or cancelled.

ToughASIA: Did the lockdown imposed during this MCO interfere with any of your plans?

Ann: I am sure I am not the only one to think that 2020 is supposed to be a super fun and busy year for everyone. Subsequently, although I could not train outdoors, I still maintained my training at home on the Zwift online cycling platform with my friends to keep me motivated and to push myself in training.

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ToughASIA: What are your achievements for 2020?

Ann: Although we do not have a lot races in 2020, personally, I do not prefer virtual races. I find it hard to maintain my motivation during the race. This is because I was based in my hometown of Melaka, and it was quite tough to find training buddies during the MCO.

Hence, during the MCO, I took the time to study and read more about sport and nutrition to more gain more knowledge on my body and performance.

ToughASIA: What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Ann: I wish that there will be more races for me to participate!

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