The 2020 IROMAN 70.3 World Championships in New Zealand was going to be the highlight of the triathlon community in Malaysia as we have 16 athletes representing our country. Unfortunately, the race has been cancelled as the COVID-19 global pandemic claims another victim.
Currently, qualifiers have been provided the option to race in the 2021 race in Utah, USA or 2022 with hopes that it will still be held in New Zealand. Among the athletes ToughASIA interviewed, most of them have opted for 2022 as they are still worried about the escalating COVID-19 situation in the USA. With no news about how global travel will restart either, the longer and more expensive travel to Utah is not desirable and difficult to plan into their 2021 schedule.
Nevertheless, keeping the #MalaysiaBoleh spirit flying high all of the qualifiers, ToughASIA peeked into how they have been keeping themselves fit and active in their respective race strategies.
It was utter coincidence that both Sue Teoh and Sue Kay qualified for the world championship at the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi through the global Women for Tri program which aims to increase women participation in the 3-discipline sport.
Racing on the international stage is no stranger to 2015 SEA Games and 2018 Asian Games finalist Sue Teoh. Having dominated the podium in many local races, she is also akin to a hybrid triathlete as she actively participates in off-road triathlon race Xterra and was crowned the 2018 Xterra Asia Pacific Tour Champion in her age group.
Sue Teoh: For now, I will just concentrate on base building, that is, building on volume and also more strength training. More structured training will only start later about 5-6 months before my next race, tentatively IRONMAN 70.3 Desaru Coast in April next year.
Therefore, Desaru will be a practice race for me and hopefully I’ll get to race at least another 2 or more 70.3 distance races. In between, I am also hoping to be able to compete in some Xterra races especially in Taiwan which was also cancelled earlier this year.
On the other hand, Sarawak-born designer by profession, Sue Kay qualified for the world championship twice as she first qualified via the IRONMAN 70.3 Bangsaen in Thailand, and then again in Langkawi. After dabbling in triathlon for 5 years, the yoga instructor turned triathlete has been yearning to race in Taupo because of the beautiful race course and she has always wanted to visit New Zealand.
Sue Kay: My plan till then is to maintain fitness, so it is going to be a very, very long build. For now, I am working on Zone 2 Heart Rate training while setting small targets for myself to keep the momentum and motivation up.
Finishing the 2019 SEA Games Triathlon on a high note, Allison Yee was ecstatic to qualify for the 2020 IROMAN 70.3 World Championships. Still hoping to race in her preferred country of New Zealand, Allison is willing to wait till 2022 and hope things will be back to normal by then.
Allison Yee: There is really no targeted training plan for a race at the moment. I am taking this opportunity to stay fit, fine tune my techniques, skills and improve my overall health.
Therefore, it would not be too hard when I start picking up on my training again, when there is a secured race in my calendar. In between, I would love to have simulation races with groups or peers to spike my adrenaline too!
Rupert Chen was Malaysia’s fastest IRONMAN in 2016 and he is back with a vengeance by qualifying for the 70.3 world championship race. Since then, he has spread his passion for triathlon like wildfire through his own coaching setup in RC Coaching, resulting in hundreds of new athletes taking up the challenge of combining swimming, cycling and running into triathlon across Malaysia.
Despite having his hands full, he is still finding his competitive edge to take part in races and setting the bar high for his trainees.
Rupert Chen: Currently, I am training swim, bike, run with athletes almost daily to maintain fitness. We will conduct triathlon trainings in Melaka, Desaru and Langkawi to practice simulation.
Lim Chee Yong was one of Malaysia’s youngest athlete at 20 years old to qualify for his dream race, the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii which he raced in 2018. After participating in the hardest IRONMAN race in the world, he set his next target to qualify for the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and he achieved it.
The Langkawi-born Sport Science student and part-time swimming instructor has been delving in triathlon since 2016 when his uncle introduced him to the sport. IRONMAN Langkawi is obviously his favourite race, because he was born there and is loyal to racing in his hometown for 4 consecutive years with 2 full IRONMAN distance and 2 halve distance races.
Chee Yong: I will still maintain my base training until when the local races are allowed to be held, and then I will progressively increase the intensity 1-2 months before the race.
If there are no races for this year, I will do a triathlon simulation by myself just to remind my body on how to transition between the three disciplines.