Double Happiness for ONEathlete runners at Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2017

Press Release for SCSM 2017

3 Dec 2017 – Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy Winner Ashley Liew and fellow Flexifitness teammate Evan Chee (both managed by ONEathlete) finished as 2nd and 3rd Singaporean male respectively at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) 2017 which also doubled up as the first Singapore National Championships marathon race.

1st runner-up Ashley Liew (right) and 2nd runner-up Evan Chee (left) together with their Team Flexifitness coach and reigning Singapore marathon national record holder M. Rameshon (centre)

1st runner-up Ashley Liew (right) and 2nd runner-up Evan Chee (left) together with their Team Flexifitness coach and reigning Singapore marathon national record holder M. Rameshon (centre).

In the Open category the Kenyans once again completed a podium sweep with Cosmas Kimutai winning the Men’s race in 2:22:48 while Pamela Rotich was crowned the women’s champion with a time of 2:38:31.

Reigning SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong was the first local Men to cross the line and was crowned Singapore’s first national champion finishing in 2:35:55. Rachel See won the accolade in the local Women’s race with a timing of 3:11:08 (unofficial).

Ashley Liew, the latest Singapore elite marathoner to join ONEathlete few weeks ago, finished with a timing of 2:50:21. While Evan Chee, wrapped up his 4th and final marathon race for 2017 (following Tokyo, Bangkok, Berlin) finishing in 2:54:38 on a humid but relatively cool and overcast December morning where the skies even looked threatening atone point during the race.

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Ashley and Evan on the podium with SCSM 2017 local Men champion, Rui Yong, at the SCSM 2017 Prize Presentation.

I had to balance high mileage run training with serving patients six days a week as a Doctor of Chiropractic at Family Health Chiropractic Clinic. In addition, it is never easy racing under the heat and humidity in Singapore. Overall, I’m thankful to my coach, Mr Rameshon, Flexifitness teammates, my encouraging girlfriend Sandra, my father who ran the 10km today, my supportive sponsor Asics and my management agency ONEathlete. I couldn’t have asked for more than to be taking part and racing among the very talented field today” – said Ashley Liew after completing his 28th Marathon today.

“Having raced 3 marathons earlier this year with the last being Berlin marathon just 9 weeks ago, my goals this morning had to be conservative and realistic much as I would have wanted to give it my all once the gun went off. Congratulations to Ashley who ran a superb race as well as all the runners who helped made this event a wonderful experience! It has been a fulfilling year of racing and travelling and I am looking forward to catching up with family and friends over this festive season” – Evan Chee

Also taking part in SCSM this morning were members of runONE & ONEathlete family. They enjoyed this year’s revised route, revelling in the running community’s camaraderie and taking turns to cheer fellow runners along the route.

While Mok had to give SCSM 2017 a miss due to his upcoming wedding banquet preparations. However, he turned up on race morning with a bright smile, this time as a supporter to give back the kind words and support he has received from the running community as well as family and friends all these years. Mok’s wife Belinda completed her 10km run while his sister, Mok Ying Rong, came in 2nd in the local Women’s marathon category.

Leading up to SCSM 2017, Mok also continued doing what he believed in, supporting fellow runners through his #RunwithMok 15-week training programme as part of a RunONE x Straits Times column which advocates getting active as a healthy lifestyle and also provides running tips such as injury prevention. Mok also provided hydration tips and strategies through his social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, having experienced first-hand the importance of hydration in the days before, and during, important races.

(left to right): Ashley and Evan with the RunONE & ONEathlete Co-founders; Mok with Belinda after her 10km race; Mok Ying Rong receiving her 1st runner-up prize

The 16th edition of Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, which started in 1982 and has evolved into a marquee event for Singapore running, saw 48,000 enthusiastic participants in what is likely one of the biggest turnout in recent times. This year’s marathon also incorporated new ‘heritage’ routes and entertainment points, allowing runners to enjoy a historic cultural journey through Singapore as they race past Little India, iconic heritage sites such as Chinatown, Malay Heritage area and the city centre before ending at the Padang.

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Ashley (left, in light blue) and Evan (right, in maroon) sharing a light-hearted moment with fellow runners before the gun goes off

SAA President Ho Mun Cheong, had earlier alluded to the partnership between SAA and SCSM organiser, Ironman Asia, as raising the level of competitive distance running in Singapore by giving top Singapore runners a chance to compete amongst the elites at the region’s only IAAF Gold Label race. Mr. Ho’s sentiments was echoed by Mok Ying Ren, one of Singapore’s top marathoners and seven-time SCSM Singapore Men’s champion, who was confident the partnership would resonate with competitive runners in Singapore and also offer opportunities for a finer display of local sportsmanship as well as groom future young running talents. The partnership between SAA and Ironman Asia will last 2 years until 2018.

(all photo credits: ONEathlete)

For any queries, kindly email jed@onemanagement.sg

The (ONE)athlete’s High

Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. But once you’ve tried it you’re always craving for it, and the more the better. If you’re one of those who wakes up at 5am to get in a heart-pumping workout before heading to work, then you must know how satisfying and addictive that endorphin rush after a sweaty session can really kickstart your day.

Now the buzz junkies must be wondering: Is there any other way to get that same athlete’s high without working for it?

Nuyou (女友)magazine’s anchor feature of “Men We Love” (MWL) is back for its 2017 edition. Conceptualised in 2002 and in its 15th year running, the annual MWL feature introduces 25 men with desirable qualities, such as successful careers, well-balanced family lives, athleticism, good looks and personality. It is also a fantastic opportunity to introduce and showcase talented men from various walks of life who have stood out in their respective fields, and bring out a different (less known) side to their public persona.

ONEathlete is proud to have 3 of our athletes featured in Nuyou’s 2017 Men We Love – #10 Jonathan Chong, #15 Tan Yiru and #19 Mok  Ying Ren! Check out these behind-the-scenes (#BTS) sneaks and read on for more below!

 

 

(Top-left): Mok Ying Ren getting some tender care from the make-up artists; (Top-right): Jonathan Chong having fun in his own time; (Bottom): Tan Yiru trying out his personal favourite pose (Photo Credits: #ONEathlete)

 

 

Jonathan Chong, 25 

National Canoeist

Managed by ONEathlete

 

 

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“(One of the craziest thing I did) was to pack my luggage in 7 minutes and spent 4 days on a small off-the-radar island with my friends.” – Jonathan Chong

 

 

Tan Yiru, 27 

National Hockey Player

Managed by ONEathlete

 

 

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“Men tend to let their ego get in the way. That’s why I believe the game is about survival of the humble.” – Tan Yiru

 

 

Mok Ying Ren, 29 

Double SEA Games Gold Medallist & National Marathoner

Managed by ONEathlete

 

 

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“For me, love is about patience. And with every passing day I find her more beautiful than ever before” – Mok Ying Ren

 

 

Photo credits:

  • Black/white photos from Nuyou (女友)magazine’s anchor feature of “Men We Love” (MWL) 2017.
  • Coloured photos from #ONEathlete.

Stars and Crescent Shine for Debutant Benjamin Ooi at 2017 Ironman World Championships

Press Release for IRONMAN World Championship – Benjamin Ooi

KONA, HAWAII – 24 year-old SMU student triathlete, Benjamin Ooi, had an amazing debut at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, and also his first ironman-distance event (3.9km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km marathon) to finish as top Singaporean male in an overall time of 10 hours 34 mins.

Joining Ben is also multiple Kona-qualifier and one of Singapore’s best female triathlete Choo Ling Er, who finished in 10 hours 32 mins.

As an ex SMU Aquathlon captain and water polo player, Ben was introduced to triathlon 2 years ago as a way of keeping fit for his annual army physical proficiency test (IPPT). Within that short span of time, Ben has gone from learning to ride a bike to racing the very best at the IRONMAN World Championship, a qualifications-only holy grail of triathlons.

Race Morning

The day started positively as the age group athletes were flagged off in waves after the Pro Men’s and Women’s race began at 6:35am. Ben showed his pedigree and water polo background, exiting the 3.9km swim in just over 62 mins along with a large pack of race-eager age groupers vying for position.                                                 

Heading into transition 1, Ben knew that he was the first Singaporean out of the water and stood a good chance. After coming in 2nd at his Kona-qualifying Hefei 70.3 race last October (which also happened to be his first ever 70.3 race), Ben had dedicated the past year getting ready for Kona. He even brought his bike along for his 4-month overseas exchange programme in Sao Paulo, Brazil (as part of his overseas exchange programme), so that training can continue uninterrupted. It shows the dedication and commitment he has in his pursuit of the sport.


Biking Through The Lava Fields

On the bike heading out to Hawi, the punishing headwinds and crosswinds were unforgiving and many athletes, including Ben, were starting to feel the effort. Uncharacteristically, Ben had to work hard to keep his focus just 40km into the bike. Perhaps the nerves were getting to this Kona debutante. 

Although Ben had clocked training rides as long as 160km, his packed academic schedule and congested roads in Singapore had conspired for a less-than-ideal prep on the bike. Ben had to reassure himself he had the legs just as the scorching lava fields were sapping his energy. Working through his hydration and fueling provided some mental respite as Ben tackled the elements and his inner monsters.

As is always, the return leg from the turnaround at Hawi, and then the last 50km, is where the damage is done as stronger riders start to pile on the pressure  before entering transition 2. With big gaps slowly opening up, Ben once again found himself stranded in no man’s land, mentally and physically, as he inched back towards transition. It was going to be a long day in office.


The Final Stretch

Once off the bike, Ben knew that he had his work cut out for him on the run. The abnormally hot weather at this year’s race, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees at the Energy Lab, had turned the run into a game of survival. Back on the tarmac in his running shoes, Ben felt the punishing 180km bike in his brick-like legs where every step felt heavy as lead. He made quick work to follow a group of strong runners as he settled into a strong pace. The race was approaching noon at this point, the unforgiving sun and heat giving running in Kona its infamous nickname – the ‘Ironman shuffle’.

Ben had flown into Hawaii earlier to acclimatize to the heat and humidity. His 20-hour training weeks, with runs that end as late as 1pm in Singapore and Sao Paulo, had also prepared him to face the tough and hot Kona. As a time crunched student-triathlete, Ben was always trodding a fine line between school, training, and the crucial 4th discipline of triathlon – recovery. Despite that, Ben professes it was not the allure of outgunning his competitors but bettering himself that drove him to this sport, and eventually led him to Kona.

“As an athlete, and in life, success is a matter of discipline and habit. Day in and day out, the open-ended challenge to better myself continues. I trusted my training and a little common sense to take me through the unknown come race day. Sometimes things don’t go flowingly, but I know my efforts have still made me a better athlete.

Shortly after the 21km mark, Ben still managed to stick together with the group as they try to conserve energy, mentally and physically, for the second half of the marathon and the Energy Lab –  an infamous 5-km stretch of heat and destitute. At the 28km mark, runners turn off the Queen K highway to complete a loop around the Lab and when they leave, they’re rarely the same. At this point, Ben knows it’s about finishing the run before it finishes you. He digs deep and knows that he must hurry, but more haste can mean less speed too. It’s a high-wire act of energy management in the last 10km, one that he has trained and rehearsed for the past year.


Finishing Down Ali’i Drive

As the Sun begins its gentle descent, Ben  finds the second wind he’s been searching the whole day. Covering the last 3km at 4:10min/km pace and with a final right turn down Ali’i Drive towards the coveted finish, Ben was greeted by his sister, Belinda Ooi, as well as brother-in-law and national marathoner ONEathlete Mok Ying Ren. Both of them had turned up to lend their fullest support for Ben’s Kona debut, providing valuable support as family and also professional advice as athlete, physiotherapist and doctor in company.

Ben is looking forward to enjoy the remaining of his vacation on the tropical sunny Hawaiian paradise before working towards a local race come year end, for a gratifying finish to what has been a long training season for him.

 

“Competing with the best here at Kona has given me an appreciation of the possibilities ahead. Very honoured to have raced with this bunch of dedicated triathletes. Last but not least, I’m unspeakably grateful to the throngs of supporters who lined the streets and livened up the race atmosphere, as well as to have had my family here cheering me on, and throughout the lengthy lead-up to this day!”

Benjamin will like to put on record his deep appreciation to his family and friends, as well as ONEathlete, whose unwavering support over the past year made today’s result possible.


For further enquiries, kindly email jed@onemanagement.sg. Thank you.

Casio Video Feature – Team SG Canoeist Jonathan Chong

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Time is what we all want most, but use worst.

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Like everyone, Jonathan has 24 hours a day.

But unlike everyone, Jonathan does canoeing, studies, coaching, travelling and, modeling as well.

Join us for a quick peek into a shy introvert’s on-screen transformation as we go behind the scenes in Jonathan’s latest and most terrifying project. Stay tuned for the full video at the end and you might discover the secret to his time-defying act too.

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On behalf of Jonathan, ONEathlete will like to thank the teams at Casio and Straatosphere (Hana) for this incredible opportunity as well as their advice and support!

Catch the full video below!

 

Tough match, tough lessons, tough men – TeamSG Hockey Team

Press Release for SEA Games 2017 – Tan Yi Ru (National Hockey Team)

30 Aug 2017

 

Kuala Lumpur – After days of intense competition and hard-fought matches in the group stage, the 29th SEA Games Hockey Competition for Team SG drew to a close on 29 Aug 2017. In a tightly contested bronze medal showdown, Singapore Hockey Men’s team overcame Thailand to emerge victorious with a score of 2-1. 

 

Just 2 days earlier, these two teams had met in the group stage. Then, Singapore had led by 3 goals through most of the match before Thailand came fighting back with 2 quick goals. That match also ended narrowly 3-2 in Singapore’s favour. However, due to goal difference disadvantage, Singapore eventually missed out to Myanmar on qualifying for the gold medal match.

 


ONEathlete and veteran TeamSG hockey player Tan Yi Ru knew today’s bronze medal match would be as much a mental and tactical challenge. Unknown to others, memories of the earlier nail-biting finish against Thailand had affected some of the players’ preparation for today’s match against the same opponents.

However, being one of the more experienced players on the Singapore squad, Yi Ru stepped up to the plate and played a vital role in holding the backline defence to deprive Thailand opportunities to capitalise on, especially on the counter-attack. The team also reviewed their earlier matches and tightened their gameplay by focusing on greater consistency and reducing unnecessary mistakes. Such as, the ones that landed them slightly behind Myanmar (through match points), who fought hard against Malaysia in the finals and lost 14-0. Malaysia has held the Gold medal for every SEA Games, except in 1974.

 

Winning the SEA Games Bronze medal today was a bittersweet moment for Yi Ru, who still remembers the loss in the finals against Malaysia in 2013 and 2015. While there were several young players on this year’s team, the more experienced players like the team captain, Enrico (below photo, right), Ashriq, and Yi Ru lent their weight in providing support, advice and guidance.

“I’m very proud of my team, some of whom I have had the honour of knowing and training alongside for years. Our humbling defeat in the finals at the 2015 SEA Games had played a big role in giving us the strength to persevere today, especially during that tightly contested last quarter bronze medal match, today. Much as we had hoped to better our results from the previous SEA Games, we have given it our best shot although there is definitely room for improvement. Kudos to our opponent, the Thailand team, who had fought equally hard and showed great sportsmanship.”

 

Recalling his prep for the SEA Games, Yi Ru was also very heartened by the extent of support and cheering from the local crowd and Singaporean supporters. On top of that, Yi Ru is also very thankful to the invaluable and reassuring presence and encouragement from his family, friends and his fiancee. While hockey is a competitive sports, sometimes people tend to get engrossed in the win-lose aspect of the game and forget the celebration of common triumph, camaraderie and sportsmanship.

 

The team returned soon after to Singapore on Wednesday at 6pm. Amongst Yi Ru’s priorities after returning to Singapore will be the preparations for his wedding later this year, as well as taking some well-deserved rest off to reconnect with loved ones. He will also be diverting some attention to his coaching duties in their lead-up to the upcoming floorball competitions.

 

Photo credits: Team photos by Hafiz Rased. Rest by ONEathlete. 

For any enquiries on the press release, please feel free to contact jed@onemanagement.sg

Photo credits: Coach Rameshon / ST / RunONE

ST : Holding a longstanding record with quiet dignity

This article was first published on The Straits Times column on 12 Aug 2017.

 

Singapore running legend Murugiah Rameshon was decades ahead of his time, though not many recognised it then. He raced against himself, lowering the national record 5 times in as many years, shaving 4 minutes off his 2:28 mark in his final record-breaking race. Then 31 years old, his final national marathon record of 2:24:22 set  at the 1995 SEA Games has withstood the test of time, unwavering and dignified even after 22 years.

 

Photo credits: Coach Rameshon / RunONE
Photo credits: Coach Rameshon / RunONE

Setting The Bar High

 

It all started in 1987. Only 23 then, Rameshon had his first break and established himself as one of Singapore’s top marathoner by winning the Mobil Marathon. But in order to have a shot at then national record of 2:34 held by Tan Choon Ghee, he had planned to increase his weekly mileage from 70km to 120km. Grass was the only way to go: it was a more forgiving surface than tarmac with a lower risk of injury. In grass Rameshon had found an unlikely partner – one who, like him, bends but never yields to pressure.

 

In an era without compression tights and altitude chambers, an athlete with Rameshon’s ethos would never be found wanting. Hand-written training notes, meticulously recorded with timings to the second, are among his prized possessions today. He epitomised the complete athlete who owned his training, mind, body and results – a point he continues to emphasize now as head coach of a fitness and training outfit. To him, professional running is a full-time commitment requiring absolute focus and discipline. He upholds that, “If you have time to be distracted, then you are not training like you should.”

 

His minimalistic approach also embodied another timeless lesson – that performance in endurance running is simply and undeniably consistent hard work. But just as eggs are the hardest dish to master, the simplest is not always the easiest.

 

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Photo credits: Coach Rameshon / RunONE

Against All Odds

 

Like national swimmer Joscelin Yeo, Rameshon had decided early in his running career that the best way to improve was to train overseas. But without any result to secure a scholarship, he had no choice but to go the distance on faith. Taking matters into his own hands, Rameshon balanced training and undergraduate studies at Loughborough University, England. Eventually running up a bill of $60,000 when his personal income then was a hard-earned $1,000. It was draining physically, mentally and financially.

 

It was only after he first broke the national record at the Hong Kong marathon in 1991, did then Singapore Sports Council offer a $1,500 per year grant and he started being outfitted by Nike. It was help late in arriving, but gratifying nonetheless.

 

Photo credits: Coach Rameshon / RunONE
Photo credits: Coach Rameshon / RunONE

I Don’t Think In Terms Of Limits

 

Could he have reached greater heights with more support? “Maybe. But it doesn’t matter anymore.” Rameshon hints of a quiet confidence that can only come from someone who has dreamed big, worked hard and treads softly. When asked about not being selected for the Olympics despite qualifying for it, he said, “Let me be my own judge. There is no need to prove oneself if one has achieved.”

 

Fame was never the name of the game for Rameshon. He was clear about being beholden to but not enslaved by his ambitions. “Once you see running as a conquest of numbers, then this sport, any sport, will be reduced to a race for glory.” Till today, he lives by this principle.

 

Then as now, he believes the porousness of records cannot take anything away from the greatness sports has to offer. The irony of records is that once it’s set, its destiny is to be broken. In fact, Rameshon has been instrumental in igniting many prolific younger marathoners, spurring them to reach their fullest potential by surpassing him. Like the proverbial lamb at the altar, what matters is the kindling process. Records are but means to an end, although lesser athletes may, and often, confuse the two.

 

Photo credits: Coach Rameshon / RunONE
Photo credits: Coach Rameshon / RunONE

Setting The Stage For Others

 

It’s not just his longstanding record, that makes Rameshon one of Singapore’s greatest runner to date. More importantly is the way he does it. The honesty with which he trains, and his humility in finishing. Rameshon always raced as if to celebrate the greatness of endurance running – honouring it by raising it.

 

As the 29th SEA Games approaches, Rameshon’s record still resonates, leading us to wonder if our capable athletes will raise the standards even further. In surpassing the competition and himself, Rameshon eventually rose above the arena where his fame was birthed, writing a legacy beyond the numbers once ascribed to his name. In achieving so much with so little, Rameshon has kept the flame alive for others to seek what may seem to be, but many hope not, impossible.

 

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Lester Tan is an avid runner and passionate triathlete who raced at the Asia-Pacific 70.3 World Champs in Cebu. He is an in-house writer for runONE.
Lester Tan is an avid runner and passionate triathlete who raced at the Asia-Pacific 70.3 World Champs in Cebu. He is an in-house writer for runONE.

ONEathlete x ONEteamsg Special – Tan Yi Ru

National hockey player Tan Yi Ru is no stranger to a family away from home. He first started hockey together with his cousin, Toh Limin, in the U-12 squad and the years training with this hockey ‘family’ has forged bonds of friendship and camaraderie over blood and sweat, laughter and tears.

On Yi Ru, who was nominated one of the top 23 hunks and babes of TeamSG athletes, his cousin Limin recalled: “There was this young girl who was a fan of Yi Ru and when she found out that I was his cousin, she started asking me things about him and even to help ask for a photo of them together!” Unfortunately for all you single ladies, Yi Ru is engaged to his loving fiancee and partner of 4 years, and will be getting married in Nov 2017.

So what makes a winning team? In a sports like hockey, with pucks flying as fast as 150km/h, the importance of teamwork cannot be understated. For Yi Ru, it’s about the team chemistry to instinctively know your teammates will be chasing down a splitting pass down the middle, or the gut split-second reaction to chain together several passes in quick succession. These intangible qualities add up to the difference that separates a successful team from the rest. Even though Yi Ru’s name was on the scoresheet for being the first Singaporean to score a goal for Singapore at the 2009 Junior’s World Cup, he is keenly aware that the honour belongs to the team.

Fourteen years ago, I last played for Xishan Primary School competing in Hockey/Floorball for Senior boys tournament. I could barely remember how much we had lost and win for the matches but all I could recall now was all the fun times I had with my team mates and always trying to be mischievous during most of the training days. No doubt the kids are still the same but they missed out on how to "Create Memories" for themselves 💦 which I was taught recently. A little too late but at least I know this is essential 👍🏻 Today, I return back to where I picked up the sport and giving those kids in the picture the exact same feeling I had back then. Teaching them how they should enjoy the sport and how it should be played. This group of kids, with half of the team just started 6 months ago won my heart by getting 1st runner up for the national championship with such little time on practice, I salute all of you! (Hats off) 👏🏻 Now back to 📚, study smartly. I know all of you will do well. All the best for PSLE! 💪🏻

A post shared by 陈奕儒 Yi Ru Tan (@tyryiru) on

Yi Ru is also deeply involved in coaching developmental work. Amongst others he is coaching his alma mater Bishan Primary’s floorball team, where his own passion for hockey was first ignited, as well as the Singapore Development U14 and U16 squads. By giving back to the community, he hopes to pass on his experience and passion to the next generation of athletes and hopefully inspire them to greater heights, in sports and in life.

Usually quiet and more reserved in his own time, Yi Ru is a different character once he steps onto the court and into his role as a coach or a member of the national hockey team. He understands the importance of communication in building a team, bringing different individuals together and towards the same goal, supporting one another through the challenging demands in life. “It is crucial to convey confidence and trust, knowing someone else shares the same dream as me, and will be there for me, and beside me.” Yi Ru deeply values relationships and personal ties with family and friends, that it was his ‘family away from home’ that kept him motivated when the going got tough, for instance during his overseas training stint in France.

As physically demanding as hockey is, more games have been won and lost within the head than on the legs. Being one of the more senior member of the squad, Yi Ru speaks of his experience with a quiet conviction that ‘(it is crucial) to have a team that’s able to stay as one and focused on the goal, to motivate one another, especially when the team is trailing behind or morale is low’. Yi Ru’s teammate of 14 years, Enrico Marican, who captained the 2015 SEA Games Hockey team, echoed this sentiment: “playing (hockey) full-time is not all fun and games. There is also a mental aspect about being really focused and serious”

For those of you who can’t attend the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, your words of encouragement and support can still help give Yi Ru and his team the winning mental edge! #ReadyforKL #OneTeamSG #ONEathlete.

ONEathlete x ONEteamsg Special – Mok Ying Ren

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

About two million years ago homo sapiens evolved long legs and short toes to run for survival. Since then, Man has progressed from hunter-gatherers chasing food to running down competition but the race against time, for time, continues. In this time immemorial cycle of life, the young chases the old, the hunter becomes the hunted. Time is the enemy of all. Does one choose to rage against the dying of the light or fill the unforgiving minute with its worth of run?

(Photo Credits: ONEathlete)

Mok Ying Ren is 29 years old. The creases on his face wink in agreement when Mok smilingly bemoans “that the party doesn’t last forever and one day the music will have to stop.”

Once Mok was performing overnight duties at the hospital. There was a patient who got really excited knowing she was going to be stitched up by the national marathoner because “now I’ve got your autograph for life”. By all accounts time has also left its indelible mark on us all. In medicine as in running, it is always a race against time. Mok knows it only too well.

The enormity of the mission behind Mok’s medical profession has lent a great gravity and awareness of the fragilities of life and the human body. After spending a large part of his earlier running career overcoming personal injuries and now dedicating himself to the wounds of others, Mok quietly accepts when his legs take longer to recover, and his breathing more laboured as his heart and lungs strain to compensate. Men at 30 learn to close softly, doors they know won’t be opening again.

Professional running has been compared by some to poetry in motion. Gliding legs caressing the pavement like a carefree antelope, although not even the fastest or most graceful of them has been known to escape the endless pursuit of time. The younger Mok admittedly had an immolating passion and fury raged in his belly, which did not play well to the strengths of a sport where the one who wins is often the last to slow down.

Today, Mok can hold his own among some of the region’s best marathoners, and turn up the heat with a burst of speed or join a breakaway. The feisty runner is hardly one to expect mercy from after the gun goes off. But he always delivers respect. Respect your opponent and the distance. Respect your body. Respect the clock.

How much fire still burns within him? No one, including Mok himself, knows how his SEA Games bid will end. “You have to be absolutely committed, and hungry,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t tell myself that I must win this race or break that record.”

For the doctor-athlete straddled between medical responsibilities and athletic pursuit, Mok’s priorities were clear – his patients. “Their lives and well-being are my responsibility, and I owe it to them and their families that they receive complete focus and attention. When I was put in situations where I had to choose between my training and my patients, I was convicted to prioritize the latter. I guess then, training was compromised, but I gave the best of my ability.”

2017_Run_Mok_0334.jpg(photo credits: Ming Ham)

Like medicine, athletics is a lifelong apprenticeship where lessons are passed from one generation to the next. Through mistakes made and guidance shared, the baton is passed as the young learn what they can and the wise imparts what they have.

Mok knows his success is not his alone and he is grateful to friends, family and coaches who have stood by him throughout all these years, as well as the continuing support of partners and sponsors like 100PLUS and New Balance.

At the 29th SEA Games in KL, Mok will be trying to beat the clock but he is also racing the era. Champions don’t give up easily, not even against time. Coach Rameshon set the standing national marathon record of 2:24:22 at the 1995 SEA Games. Then, he was 31 years old.

ONEathlete x ONEteamsg Special – The Chen Sisters

Anyone with a brother or sister will attest to a childhood filled with not just bedside stories but also plenty of sarcasm-ridden competition. Siblings share the same parents, and by extension 99.9% of the genes. Which means what one is capable the other should technically be as well. But of course in reality that never happens and growing up becomes a endless series of action and reaction, provocation and retaliation. Newton’s wisdom in its full glory.

For the uninitiated, like myself, learning to tell the difference between canoeing and kayaking is like telling Stephenie apart from Sarah. During our first interview the two sisters wore the same white tee, both beaming megawatt pearly whites and well-defined torsos that made me seriously regret skipping gym days.

Their fierce style of racing and success at the 2015 SEA Games have made Stephanie and Sarah one of the top home favourites at the coming Asian Canoe Sprint Championships in Shanghai, not to mention their fun-loving, larger-than-life personalities which never fails to bring a party of its own at any gathering.

“I did not hit you. I merely high-fived your face!”

 

Sarah and Stephenie are incredibly close even if, being the competitive national canoeists they are, it’s not something they are too vocal about. They are by no means inseparable, a point both were eager to make. However, what they thrive on is this constant encouragement to each other to seek out the best in themselves, both on and off the water. The uncanny resemblance between them drives them even harder to outdo the ‘shadow’ of each other’s (lesser) existence.

Family and friends speak to the heart of the tightly bonded sisters. The only time when I had a whiff of of one-upmanship was when Sarah grudgingly bemoans that “girls have muscles too” and backs up her statement visibly agitated. No disagreement was to be had and the interview quickly moved on. On a serious note, the sisters sincerely hope to empower and encourage women in society and sports through the platform that canoeing has given them.

“We hope to show by example of our effort, that as long as you set your heart and mind to something, put in the hard work, then there is nothing to lose because you have already given it all you’ve got” For them, sports is one of the best metaphor for life, going through the trials of miles and miles of trials teaches so much about determination, discipline and perseverance. That the power to achieve dreams comes from your heart (and not just your biceps).

“The best race will always be the next” quips Sarah when asked about the drive behind her pursuit of the perfect one. “Definitely without the tsunami waves and gale winds we once raced in” Stephenie chimed in.

In this final countdown to the 2017 Asian Canoe Sprint Championships in October (canoeing is not part of the 29th SEA Games), the Chen sisters will be looking to the Olympic motto of ‘faster, higher, stronger’ as inspiration for an all-rounded performance to better their previous SEA Games performance of 2 Gold, 1 Silver in 2015. Even then, they know this long and tough journey will not end anytime soon, but I’m not sure if they’d rather have anyone else by their side. Well, they are literally (racing) in the same boat for K4! 

Meanwhile, catch Stephenie donning the Team Singapore tee! Get yours now!

ONEathlete x ONEteamsg Special – Shaheed Alam

What were you doing when you were 8? My memory is vague but not too far from between getting whacked and playing catching. When Shaheed Alam was 8, he had already won three U10 National Tennis titles. Shaheed walks us through his story below – one of a path less travelled, and one that he chose.

I guess I started from a young age…

A post shared by Shaheed Alam (@shaheedalam98) on Sep 3, 2016 at 5:05am PDT

 

“If you want to achieve what others can’t, you have to do what others won’t”

When Shaheed was 14, then studying at St Andrew’s School, he took a gap year to eat, sleep, breathe, think and train tennis. (again what was I doing at 14? Asking girls for numbers maybe) It was a life-changing decision. The academic progress that he gave up brought Shaheed clarity on what he (really) wanted – a single-minded devotion and commitment to train and compete without worrying unduly about studies. On returning to Singapore, the Saint had decided to join Singapore Sports School.

For as long as Shaheed can remember, one of the first and last thing he sees everyday is his tennis racket. He packs his loyal companion into his training bag at 6am and puts it back only after returning home late at night. His anthem might very well be, “with my racket, and my court and me!”

With typical teenage nonchalance, Shaheed sees his tennis ambitions in black-and-white. When asked about how he feels about his more ‘carefree’ peers, Shaheed simply shrugs it off. “You really can’t, and shouldn’t compare. Tennis is my choice and for all the pain it’s worth I think tennis helps me bring the best out of myself.”

Besides the physical demands of performing at a professional level in tennis, Shaheed have also had times when, like anyone of us, he had to depend on others for support and assistance.

So when Shaheed’s coach left in 2016, it was a loss which left its toll on him and his game. For a player who, just one year earlier, had made ITF Junior history by being the first Singaporean male player to win an ITF Junior Singles title, rough was an understatement.

 

However, Shaheed kept chugging along because he knew that the game was not just about himself. “I did not want to disappoint my family, especially my father, who had supported and encouraged me all these while. I also wanted to show the younger tennis players, through my actions, that the game is never lost until you tell yourself it is.” It was evident that Shaheed’s family was a strong pillar of support in his endeavours.

Speaking with Shaheed left me a mixed bag of feelings.

He exuded this enviable and infectious rush of youthful ambition, like any 18-year old would, and his eyes would light up when he spoke about his debut as Team Singapore contingent at the 2015 SEA Games opening ceremony. “That immense pride and joy. It’s a feeling no one can take away from me”

At the same time, I wonder if I had the opportunity that Shaheed had, would I have had the courage to follow in his footsteps. Now my time has passed, but not for Shaheed who is determined to make the best of God’s gift to him. So far, 2017 seems to be getting off well for Shaheed who earned his first ATP point during the ITF Pro Circuit Tournaments held earlier in Singapore.

Andre Agassi once lamented the loneliness of being a professional player. “The fact that tennis is, for the most part, an individual sport throws up its own set of challenges. People sometimes mention the track-and-field runner as a comparably lonely figure… At least the runner can feel and smell his opponents. They’re inches away. In tennis, you’re an island.”

When Shaheed returns to the court at the 2017 SEA Games, it’ll be him against himself. new Shaheed versus old Shaheed. And he believes he will be prepared for it.