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“Guang” Director Quek Shio Chuan: From Chain Smoking To Finishing Triathlons

When the MCO first started in March, the whole country was practically working – and working out – from home. Our triathlon community – people who are used to spending time training outdoors – had to adjust too, and that sure did squeeze some creative juices. Specifically, there were two Instagram videos that stood out for their creativity, energy and uplifting spirits, done by none other than multi-award “Guang” Malaysia Film Festival director Quek Shio Chuan.

ToughASIA got in touch with Quek via email recently to share his thoughts.

On his works 

I am Quek, a film director from Batu Pahat who does a wide range of formats. For my commercial works, I usually direct festive commercials like this year’s TNB Chinese New Year’s “Virtual Not Reality”. I also make movies, with “Guang” being the one that went far. And on my free time, I make some endurance sports-related videos because … well, I am an enthusiastic age grouper!

On that trigger to be healthy

I started to get involved in triathlon in 2016, at a time when I was stuck editing my films.  Being 30 years old then, I was not physically active; I chain smoked and had a chronic backache Although I was fortunate to be given opportunities to grow in my film making career, I was regrettably neglecting my physical and mental health. I reached the bottom and was hit by depression during the editing stage of the film; stuck, with no ideas of how I could improve it.

Then, on one fateful occasion, I was introduced to running by my producer. It was a 12km run event – my first run in 30 years -of course, I busted my legs and could not walk well for the next few days due to the extreme soreness.

But that pure joy, that runner’s high, the extensive moment of being physically active yet mentally still … was the first time in a long time I was able to take a step back from the mental mess and took a clear view with a clear head … that I was enjoying life, again.

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From Running to Triathlons

Soon enough, I caught the running bug. Then, as my producers and I were “tri-curious”, we bought a bicycle each – an entry level endurance alloy bike for me- and trained for a sprint distance triathlon, which we immediately fell in love with!

What is not to like about an event with 3 different acts?

It is almost like a 3-act structure of a movie! I dig it! I love it! It is during those long endurance training sessions that I manage to rebalance my priorities in life. I refocused on the physical self, and more importantly, on my mental health.

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It is not so much as during those efforts that I get sudden burst of ideas.  It is more about endurance sports allowing me to declutter my mind, take the monsters with me to notice how redundant they are, and be “in the now”.  With a still mind – and of course, thankfully a fitter body – my creative efforts also became more fruitful and “well trained”.

After all, the brain is an organ that needs you to exercise it. You lose what you do not use. Use them I did and still do; I finally quit smoking after 16 years and had loads of fun with friends and like-minded people.I took that entry-level alloy bike all the way to IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi, but I would probably would not do again with that bike.

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From Triathlon Racing To Producing Videos

I was training for IRONMAN Desaru 70.3 2020 when COVID-19 started My last race pre-MCO was Port Dickson International Triathlon 2020  – our favourite, one which we try to join every single year! By March, there were already talks of a possible lockdown, and I think we all knew that it would be our last triathlon event together, for a while.

When MCO started, suddenly, I had two things dear to me being taken away: film making and endurance sports. The videos I produced were exercises to combine the two things I love – to strengthen the belief that even in isolation, one must not forget to stay sane, and never let limitations kill your imaginations.

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Coming to terms with the fact that the joy of participating in a mass endurance event may not return for some time, I do wish the videos have entertained my fellow triathletes, which if inspected carefully almost resembles a triathlon training, especially for the zoetrope video. Meticulous, calculated, repetitive consistent efforts that accumulate to a strong finish.

And if you train enough, your Personal Best (PB) awaits. And I think we can all agree that not many emotions comes close to the warm, sweaty, radiating joy from within when one gets a PB.  🙂

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On Racing Plans

I surely hope for multi-sports events to return soon, and both POWERMAN and IRONMAN have provided provisional event dates. I am certainly looking forward to see my fellow triathletes by the shore once the pandemic comes under control. Till then, I will cycle far and wide. It’s my favourite discipline, anyway.