Chances are, if you have read, heard or been to an IRONMAN event in Malaysia, then you would definitely have heard of the name CG Lim. The 46-year old from Klang is unmistakably synonymous with the sport that within the local triathlon community, he is known as Mr. IRONMAN.
ToughASIA got in touch with CG via email during the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO) period. At that time, IRONMAN Malaysia, IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi in Langkawi, Kedah plus IRONMAN 70.3 Desaru Coast in Desaru were still on schedule. However, these events have been cancelled for 2020 and will resume in 2021. Nevertheless, ToughASIA takes a deep dive into IRONMAN in Malaysia, and the man behind making them possible.
ToughASIA: Are you still active in triathlon?
CG: I was a triathlete and actively participated in most of the local events. I left the racing scene when my daughter was born 10 years ago so that I can spend more time at home with my kids. Still itching to come back!
ToughASIA: Do any of your family members or kids take part in the triathlon?
CG: My kids take part in IRONKIDS events. My kids loves being outdoor and loves being part of the IRONMAN family.
ToughASIA: How long have you been a part of IRONMAN Malaysia?
CG: I have been with IRONMAN since 2014 when World Triathlon Corporation took over my company and restarted the IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi event.
ToughASIA: What inspired you to take up this role in multisports?
CG: As an athlete, it is my passion to see that IRONMAN succeed and continues on in Malaysia. Seeing new local athletes increasing every year is the most fulfilling aspect in making it happen. Our focus has always been trying to grow grassroots and new local triathletes and eventually progressed to be an IRONMAN.
Having IRONMAN events locally is a privilege that we should all take advantage of. Many athletes around the world have to travel out of their country just to race. We have it in our backyard !
I always believe that what makes IRONMAN different from another event is that we create human achievements, we create lifetime stories, we make dreams into reality and we make you believe that Anything is Possible. Listening to all the human stories continues to motivate my team and myself to push on despite all the challenges and hurdles.
ToughASIA: What is the background story in adding IRONMAN 70.3 Desaru Coast to the race calendar?
CG: Having only one race location per year – in Langkawi has its limitations. We are not able to increase the number of athletes in Langkawi due to space and safety and thus limits the growth of grassroot athletes in Malaysia. By having another 70.3 event, it opens up more opportunities for locals to compete as well as bringing in more tourists into the country.
ToughASIA: This new event is a multisport festival which seems to follow the format in Noosa, Queensland in Australia. Is that the direction?
CG: IRONMAN believes that the sport of triathlon should be inclusive and for everyone. We believe that getting the families involved is the best way to grow the sport. The multisport weekend in Desaru Coast targets everyone from the young and inexperienced to the seasoned athlete. We want the event to be a family affair and to be a destination getaway for fun and sport.
Noosa has a long legacy and history be what it is today. We aspire to be like Noosa one day in Desaru Coast but it will take everyone from stakeholders, government and the athletes’ long term support to make it happen.
ToughASIA: What was the expected number of participants and how many had signed up?
CG: Prior to our cancellation, we had sold out the IRONMAN 70.3 Desaru Coast event and was expecting about 1500 pax. We also had limited slots left for the 5150 Desaru Coast and SPRINT Triathlon.
We also launched the first ever swim-bike-run IRONKIDS in Malaysia. Carrying forward to 2021, the IRONKIDS Desaru Coast will feature 3 different age groups and will be timed.
ToughASIA: Would there be an opportunity to have the Desaru Coast concept in Langkawi in the future?
CG: Langkawi is unique on its own. The island has so much more to offer as a sport tourism destination. IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi has reached a reputation in the IRONMAN world that we should be proud of.
For now, our focus is in getting a long term support for IRONMAN Malaysia to maintain the legacy in Langkawi. The long term commitment from the government and local stakeholder is very important to create the environment for something similar like Desaru Coast.
ToughASIA: Would there be more IRONMAN branded events in other parts of Malaysia for example, in East Malaysia?
CG: IRONMAN is continuously looking for destinations to grow more events. We are studying the feasibility of more 5150 and IRONKIDS events in Malaysia to support the growth of the grassroots and beginners.
ToughASIA: What are your thoughts about triathlon in Malaysia?
CG: Back when I was racing, we probably knew almost everyone at the event. We were like a small family of “adrenaline junkies”. Since 2014, I have seen a tremendous growth in the sport of triathlon.
I believe the strength and position of IRONMAN Malaysia has been the catalyst to the increased number of people keen to be part of the sport. We now have athletes from all walks of life, from couch potatoes to celebrities. We owe this to the whole industry from triathlon clubs, triathlon coaches, race organisers, sponsors, bike shops and athletes themselves.
However, we still have a long way to go to be like in the Philippines. I believe with a good National Federation that is focused and with a structured plan to grow the sport (without politics or self-interests) and local event organisers continue to improve the quality of events, we can be a great nation filled with triathletes.
IRONMAN has also embarked to include more women participation in the sport of triathlon. We believe that women can be equally good as men in the sport. The issue we have is that there is not enough information or opportunities for those keen and interested to take the first step.
With the support of some experienced IRONMAN ladies and coaches in Malaysia, we are going to create training and sharing sessions that is exclusive to women.
We do hope that in the coming years, we can increase the number of women participation in our events from 13% to 50%. This creates another market opportunity for the industry.
Let us hope this current pandemic will pass soon, and we would be able to have CG Lim back on the ground running his IRONMAN passion again.