Kevin Teh Kuok Yuen – an engineer by profession in Kuala Lumpur in the day, “moonlights” as a wannabe pro triathlete in the night.
The 34 year-old born and raised in Subang Jaya, draws “inspiration” and jokes with his wife on how she is the third wheel in his relationship with triathlon.
Happily married for two years, Kevin’s wife plays personal yoga and flexibility coach and gets him to literally – and figuratively – reach out and stretch.
ToughASIA: What inspired you to take up triathlon?
Kevin: I started off as a runner back in school days representing the district and state in track and field and cross country. I picked up cycling in the early 2000s after seeing “you-know-who” dominating the Tour de France.
Very quickly, I realised that I was mediocre – at best – in both, so I was inspired to add in one more sport and find out if you could be good at something by being mediocre in three different things.
As all triathletes know – why be mediocre in one sport when you can be mediocre in three?
ToughASIA: What keeps you motivated to train now, even when there are no races?
Kevin: I try to keep long term goals in view in order to stay motivated nowadays without the races.
Doing my best to execute the work that needs to be done today to support my future goals seems to work well in keeping me motivated. Training wise, I normally do 10-12 sessions a week with one rest day, generally totalling up to 10-15 hours in a typical week.
ToughASIA: Where are your favourite running and cycling locations?
Kevin: When lockdown limitations permit, my running routes consist of the Kota Damansara forest trails in Selangor, Hartamas-Publika loop in Kuala Lumpur and my local housing along a 1km route for some speed work.
My cycling routes are from the Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE) towards Ijok in Selangor or within Putrajaya. Outside of the Klang Valley, I enjoy cycling on the coastal route from Desaru, Johor to Rompin in Pahang.
ToughASIA: What is the most memorable race you have competed in?
Kevin: IRONMAN 70.3 Kansas in the US was the most memorable for me. I finished right behind Chrissie Wellington (who won the women’s race) so I had the chance to run and speak with her. It was awe inspiring to be in the presence of the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) women’s triathlete.
Plus, I finished third to complete the podium in the 70.3 collegiate championships racing against some of the best college triathletes in the US back then.
IRONMAN 70.3 Vineman was also another memorable race – as it races through the beautiful Californian vineyards. I was tempted to turn into the different vineyards along the course for a quick sip of wine and some cheese as opposed to actually finishing the race. haha!
ToughASIA: What is your proudest moment in triathlon?
Kevin: A few years ago, after the sudden passing of my father, I struggled to find motivation and enjoyment in the sport for a couple of years. Back then, I honestly thought the passion and dedication I had for the sport prior to that would never return.
Beyond any doubt, my proudest moment has been bouncing back from that in recent years to really enjoy training, racing and finding purpose in my triathlon goals again. I would like to take the opportunity here to thank all the folks who have helped me on that journey, especially my wife!
ToughASIA: How do you manage between your training, races and family?
Kevin: I am thankful to have a supportive wife and family who allow me space and time to pursue this passion of mine. Thankfully, my wife is not a triathlete so we never have to argue over whose turn is it to train.
However, in order to spend more time with my wife I generally try to do my workouts when she is doing her yoga or sleeping early in the morning – that is, early swim sessions. The scheduled rest day is also great for me to catch up on housework and chores to earn my training permit from her!
ToughASIA: What is the most difficult part about triathlon and how do you overcome it?
Kevin: The hardest part is probably having the ability and discipline to knuckle down and train consistently – year in, year out – over a long time horizon.
Also, needing the patience to stay the course, especially when the gains you want or seek might take longer than you expect to or never arrive.
In this respect, I find that it helps to have a coach to help you plan and stay focused and/or speak to people who have walked the path before you did. Ultimately, when faced with a bad patch I normally try to focus on what needs to be done now or today – without worrying too much about the future – and remember that all good things take time.
ToughASIA: What keeps you going into 2021 and beyond as a triathlete?
Kevin: My personal project to complete an IRONMAN race in under 9 hours by the time I turn 39. Project #sub9by39 is what keeps me going into the future.
I was looking forward to Challenge Taiwan and the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in New Zealand in 2022 but looks like those plans might need to be put on hold for now given the current situation we all find ourselves in. Hopefully, with time we will be able to look forward to some racing locally and internationally again.