Malaysia’s fastest female triathlete at IRONMAN Malaysia for four years consecutively, Chin Mei See qualified for a coveted spot to race at the world’s toughest IRONMAN triathlon race recently.
The Perak-born triathlete was Malaysia’s sole representative in the IRONMAN World Championship which culminates at the world’s toughest race in Kona, Hawaii annually.
“I felt excited and nervous like a small fish in a big game. Every triathlete here is strong and fast. I just focused on my own race and tried to relax and gain experience from the course,” said Mei See on her first Kona experience.
Hawaii is known for turbulent waves and a tough 3.8km swim to kick start the world championship race. An engineer by profession, she was embarrassed to be the last few out of the water as there were only a few bikes left in the age-group transition area, but she kept her composure to continue on calmly.
Qualifying for the world championship race is never easy. It is extremely competitive and even with a strong sub-11 hour performance, it does not guarantee you a spot to the highly coveted spot in Hawaii.
Mei See qualified by winning first place in her age group 40-44 category at IRONMAN Gurye, South Korea in 10:53:11 and overall third female. 1994 Ironman Hall of Fame recipient, Julie Moss handed her the coveted ‘Kona coin’ for her spot to the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii.
“The race was tough. In fact, it was the toughest race for me so far. Good to have experienced such choppy water and strong wind conditions. There were cross and head winds on the bike but unfortunately no tail wind. You just have to respect nature,” said Mei See describing her race.
Mei See’s hope for tail wind was dashed with Hawaii’s infamous strong cross winds throughout 180km bike route of the race. It was Mei See’s final race for the year, and she kept telling herself that she could relax and have a long break after the race to keep her mental game strong. The immense cheers from the supporters and volunteers kept fuelling her soul as she pushed out negative thoughts, and even increased the pace on her run.
Mei See persevered to run a 4h 29 min marathon in the searing heat along the barren lava fields of Kona and crossed the finish line on Ali’i Drive of the big island at a very respectable 12:08:06.
It was also thrilling for Mei See to meet her idols – Chrissie Wellington, Mirinda Carfrae, Daniela Ryf, Lucy Charles-Barclay and Jan Frodeno and meet them in person.
“My favourite is Chrissie as I like her attitude very much. Of course it was exciting when I saw them on the bike course. They were flying on the bike!”
Raised in Penang, Mei See was fascinated by a triathlon race on television and knew it would be a great self-achievement if she could do it. In 2020, Mei See will also have a vision to fulfil as she aims to break her personal record of sub-11 hours at IRONMAN Malaysia 2020. She has much to improve upon, and to shave off 15 minutes from her current personal best of 11:14:20 in the searing heat of Langkawi will be immensely difficult.
“I’m absolutely inspired to qualify for the World Championships again, hopefully in the next 2-3 years. My pocket needs more time to be replenished,” quipped Mei See.