On Coming Back to Singapore

Heathrow Airport, en-route to Singapore. Better Never Stops.

So I’ve come full circle, back to where I began.

You know how they say, when you’ve gone one round and get back to the start, everything will feel the same, yet everything has changed.

And then you realise that it actually is you who have changed.

Got back to Singapore on Thursday evening and pretty much got back to my old life pretty swiftly.

Back to meeting my old friend, staying in my old home and heading back to do the same stuff before I left 4 years ago.

But somehow, I can feel that this time I doing it as a slightly different person, and that I’m heading towards another slightly different direction.

I think what has changed in the past 4 years is that somehow I used to think that it was possible to do anything in life, and so I tried.

Now I know that it is possible to do anything in life, and so I’m working towards it.

I wore that band around my right wrist during my last few training sessions in Loughborough and during my last decathlon to remind myself, Better Never Stops.

And I can’t stop now.

3 more weeks of rest, winter training begins.

p.s. thought I’d have a change in theme to reflect this next chapter of my life, something lighter now to reflect the brighter days ahead =)

On Keep Figuring It Out.

Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls, amazing read.

Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls, amazing read.

Life is but a series of figuring it out.

You never quite really get ‘it’, because as soon as you do, life changes and you it’s time to go figure it out again.

Just finished the awesome book Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls, absolutely fantastic inspirational read for anybody out there.

What it made me realise is that even the guys whom we view as very successful, usually had a very trying past and is still constantly trying to figure it out.

Bear worked really hard to and managed to pass the SAS selection in his second attempt (where most people wouldn’t even phantom trying one, least failing and going at it again), only to break his beak in a parachuting accident. He withdrew from the service due to the injury and started on another ridiculous adventure, to climb Mount Everest, as a goal that would drive him to make a full recovery from his back injury. He almost died trying to do so, but after he did, he was back to square one. He had no money and once again needed to figure out what to do next.

Somehow reading his story gave me some comfort, knowing that perhaps it’s just part of life, so I too am trying to figure it out.

I’m planned to go back to Singapore in less than 2 weeks, but I’m not quite sure what to do next. At the same time, business here seems to be finally kicking off and I might need to extend my stay here again just for a little bit so that I can fly off to Ireland to meet some potential investors.

Mid-20s can be a confusing and scary time of your life.

But I guess from all the stories I’ve heard and the people I’ve met, one thing I know is that if you figured it out, then you’ll keep figuring it out.

So it’s time for me to once again, figure it out.

On Dreamlining

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The older you get, the harder it is to keep holding on to your dreams.

Reality has a harsh and very effective way of beating you into submission, trying to force you to accept the limits of today as the limits for your tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow, it’s the day I intended to fly back home, bringing an end to these 4 years.

But somehow that freak neck injury 3 weeks ago changed my plans and there is still one last decathlon to go.

Being still uncertain about what to do next, I did a dreamlining exercise as mentioned in the amazing book ‘4 hour work week’ by Timothy Ferriss (highly recommended book for everyone).

Basically you ask yourself what exactly you want to be, have and be doing in 6 – 12 months time, and then you work your way backwards on how to achieve it.

I realised that I still do have very big dreams, but somehow I find myself a little more hesitant now. Perhaps the experience of failure has wisen me up to the the very real possibility of not achieving what you set out to do.

Do I dare to once again make big plans for the next 5 years of my life and pursue it as naively as I did 5 years ago?

I don’t think I can, I’m a very different person now.

But I do think I can pursue it a whole lot wiser and more focused than I did 5 years ago.

It’s almost like, yeah you got me there life, but you know what? Let’s go on and play the second round.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill

I think life is a series of figuring it out.

You never do quite get to a static point where you find ‘the’ answer, but all you can do is to keep going forwards and keep figuring it out as you go along.

So, keep going, and keep figuring it out.

On London 2012

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And so, the London 2012 Olympics is over.

Finally went down to London on the last day of the games and managed to see the Men’s marathon, visited the Olympic Park (couldn’t quite get in because I had no tickets, but the shopping mall right next to the Park felt like it as there were loads of people from all over the world and Olympians in their team kits just roaming around) and watched the closing ceremony on a big screen at Victoria park with thousands of others.

Gosh, what an amazing and electric atmosphere! Everywhere you went in London you could see people from all over the world draped in their national flags, smiling and laughing, mixing around with total strangers from another part of the world.

And I think that is what the Olympics represent, yes it is a bubble, but it just shows humanity at its best and gives us a glimpse of hope of what the future could be.

Watching the closing ceremony of the games, especially during the athletes march in, I just kept thinking, how I was I was there part of it. Not as a spectator in the stands, but as one of the athletes.

These whole Games had been brilliant and I must say I’m gutted not to have made it.

I still remember back in 2005 when I watched how London won its Olympic bid back in Singapore, I was 18 then. I did quick calculations and thought, in 7 years I’ll be 25. That would be when most athletes peaked, thus the perfect opportunity for me to go for the Games.

It feels funny to be now at the other side of that 7 year tunnel, I am 25, and still about 3500 points short of the Olympic qualifying mark for decathlon.
I guess back then I just thought that is I believed it enough, wrote it down on the wall, go to the right places, somehow it would happen.

I talked myself into it, I talked everyone around who cared to listen about it and soon I became known as the guy who was going for the Olympics.

But the one most important thing was missing, the performance.

I only did my first decathlon in 2010, that’s a good 5 years after I first dreamt about making it to the London Games. And the part that was unforgivable was that many of the 10 events I only first competed then in 2010, even though I could have done so back in Singapore individually (Singapore does not have any decathlon competitions). Yes I was injured from my army days and everything, but I can’t help but think that I could have done more. If I had so, that would have been an additional 5 years of sprint and running training I could have gotten by now.

As you get older in life, you realise that you have a very short window to live out your full physical potential and do what you want to do.

But that is all in my past now and the saying goes, you can only understand life going backwards but you have to live life going forwards.

So what is my future going to be life? What will 7 years ahead look like?
Well, I’ll be 32, if I live that long that is (I sure do hope so, but as everything else, you’d never know).

I was doing 400m training on Saturday and I was just way off pace.
Sometimes I do feel that perhaps it’s a case of me not being talented enough to become a decathlete, it’s hard enough to be good in any 1 event, let alone 10.

Yet on the other hand I feel that I’m in the perfect event because I will never have the talent to make it to the Olympics as any one single eventer, but as a decathlete, becoming fit and skilled, I can.

Becoming fit and skilled is not about talent but about hard work.

And the question is, have I actually worked as hard and as smart as I could have all these years?


Like these 400m sessions, I really dislike them and haven’t been doing much of them, but that is exactly what I always needed to be done.

So do I continue? Do I keep going on this path?

I won’t kid you, I desperately want to, for I know there is still a lot of points in the decathlon that could still be gained.

Will I reach Rio in 2016?

I’ll be entirely honest with you, I don’t know.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. – Samuel Beckett 

I guess this time I’ve wised up, not like the young naïve kid when I was 18, I’ve learnt that just because you write it down doesn’t mean it’ll come true.

But I do know that if I work hard and take advantage of all that I have learnt and put myself through these few years, there is a lot more in me before I reach the limits of my potential.

And where will that lead me?

I’m not sure, but then when the time comes, I’ll experience.

For now, I’ll just imagine, and continue working my arse off.

Hold on to the Dream.

Hurdles training 24/07/2012

Had a hurdle session today, block starts over 4 hurdles placed 1 foot in at 1m high (1 click below full competition height).

Hurdles is one of the events that I’ve always struggled with right from the start, in fact, I have never completed a race with 3 strides down all the way yet.

Today, whilst my technique wasn’t quite there as my legs were still heavy from yesterday’s hard 400m session, I was still going through each of my runs successfully. And then it struck me, gosh I’ve come a long way haven’t I?

So I went to look back at some of my video footages attempting hurdles a few years back, gosh the difference, take a look for yourself.

I guess for most of us, it always seem to take a heck of a lot longer than we though or hoped, but don’t give up. Hold on, work hard, you’ll get better I promise.

Hold on to the dream.

On Hexam.

Pole Vault, 3.12m PB.

4534 points, managed to get that number on the right of my name a little higher =)

Though I am happy that I managed a PB, I can’t help but feel that this was supposed to happen a few years ago, the steady improvement of a few hundred points comp after comp, so that I would have been somewhat decent at this sport by now. Instead it has been 4 years of dealing with injuries and setbacks that just take the wind out of you more often than not.

But it is what it is and I guess there’s no point feeling jaded or short-changed, just got to make the best out of what is right now and push forward still. I feel that finally I’m getting competent on my weak events (full results are on my results page), especially the jumps. Got a few events wrong so there’s easy points to be gained (in retrospect I ran my 400m wrongly and chickened out for hurdles after hitting hurdle 3 instead of going for it still) so I believe I still can push that number a little higher before the end of this season where I will be heading back to Singapore.

The decathletes. =)

The other decathletes once again was an awesome bunch, I can’t really quite put it into words but it’s a real brotherhood and only other decathletes will understand. Michael Sweeney (top right of the picture above) was unlucky that he fouled out all 3 attempts in his long jump, but still gave all the other events his best shot, which is an incredibly hard thing to do.

Into the 1500m, the last event, I knew I was in trouble because my left foot was hurting and my legs were gone. Michael wasn’t going for a score because of his no jump earlier so he paced me for a 5min 30s time, intending to fall back after 2 laps to conserve energy so that he can go back to his training cycle sooner after the decathlon.

1 lap in and I was in trouble, falling behind the pace that felt easy during the previous decathlon. My legs were well and truly flat, with my left foot hurting, I was unable to keep my strides open. Falling behind, Michael quickly noticed it and slowed down his pace to keep just ahead of me and keep shouting words of encouragement to keep me going. There were also strong headwinds in the home straight so every time I will tuck in behind him to shield myself and tried my best to keep up.

Despite that, I kept dropping pace and was barely hanging on, crossing the finish line eventually in 5 min 43s, my second fastest run in a decathlon. I knew without Michael pacing me, it would have been a much worst story.

That weekend was also the last of the Olympic qualification window and it was sad to see some of the other guys in the group not make the score they needed.

Needless to say, a lot of dreams came to an end that weekend, not just at the Hexam track but throughout the world of sports. I guess that’s just the way the world is, it’s pretty harsh sometimes and not every story have a fairy tale ending.

But like these guys, they handled it with grace, tried their best, gave it everything and lived to fight another day.

For myself, it also brings a close to this chapter.

As I’ve mentioned before, I became a decathlete to prove to myself that I could see it through to the very end, and I did.

They say it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, and she’s sung.

But somehow, I’m not quite done yet.

One last dec in August before I end this 2012 season, let’s go.

On Letting Go, part 2.

54 items out of my closet and into the charity or rubbish bin.

To understand and live now, everything of yesterday must die. – Bruce Lee

And so it begins, the clearing out of the apartment which I’ve stayed in for the past 3 years, it’s amazing how much junk you can accumulate over the years.

I guess starting with my closet, I have to empty out my life and start again.
All these old clothes, they do tell a story don’t they?

My Loughborough track suits, faculty T-shirts, lab coats, 10 year old clothing that my parents bought for me when I was young, each one holds a little piece of precious memory, so tempting to hold on to, but yet I know it’s time has already gone.

It’s time to start letting go.

Every Tear Drop is A Waterfall.

This is what a truely awesome concert looks like. Coldplay Mylo Xyloto @ Manchester 2012

I was at Coldplay’s concert in Manchester last Sunday and gosh, what an amazing experience that was. Somehow that to me is artistry at its highest, being able to communicate emotional content through sonic vibrations and visual extravagance. It was also a reminder to me on what a person can achieve being at the top of their game, relentlessly honing their craft.

I do wonder what will be my life’s greatest work, now that at 25 it just seems like this is the time to make it happen.

I seem to be torn between many identities at times, trying to be a decathlete, businessman, trader, and investor at the same time. With only 24 hours a day sometimes I just feel that I’m doing too much yet not doing the important things enough.

As one dream concludes, I still dream about my future.

Do I still dare to dream as big as I used to when I was young and idealistic? Or do I start to accept what I have fallen into now that I’m older and experienced?

I guess only time can tell.

In a perfect world, I will break 6000 points for decathlon by the end of the season, move back to Singapore for a year to prepare for the SEA games 2013 and get the business in Singapore running back in shape. After which I would come back to the UK for a season to prepare for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 and by then my property portfolio here in the UK will be sizable and the internet company will be generating good revenues.

And when that’s done, I’ll head over to buy a house at Zuma beach and chill in California for a while.

Sounds like a pretty crazy future doesn’t it?

Haha, but dreams are just dreams and it’s always fun dreaming about the future.

But as what a good friend of mine said, the present is the only place where the future can be created. Having the guts to live in the present and do the work for the future is something that I must strive to everyday.

I hope you do too.

Will leave you with Coldplay’s performance for Steve Job after he passed away to celebrate his life. Song is about grabbing every day and treating it like your last, cheers!

On Finding Meaning.

I got a new wallet.

Well, by all accounts I must admit it is a rather expensive wallet.

It’s made in a factory at Somerset. (Mulberry is the name of the brand in case you were wondering.)

After travelling around and visiting all those amazing museums, I’ve realised that things have meaning because you give it so.

As I approach my 25th anniversary on earth (less than a month away now…), I feel that this is a scary time of my life, simply because I’ve ran out of signpost to tell me where I should be going next.

When you’re in school, you always know what you have to do to do well and where you have to look to find out where you should go next. Now, you reach the open seas where basically you can go where ever you like. You might end up somewhere amazing, or somewhere incredibly dull, or not move at all. You have to choose whether you dare to lose sight of the shoreline and risk the dangers of the open sea.

And at the base of it, I always wonder whether there is any meaning to all this. I remember laying on the deserts of Jordan and staring into the universe above me, feeling incredibly small.

The reason why I bought this wallet is because I wanted to remember, the horrible cold, wet and gloomy British weather that unleashed itself upon us during the Somerset decathlon.

I wanted to remember how despite that, the warmth of the human spirit that you always experience during the decathlon thanks to the other decathletes which for some reason always turn out to be awesome human beings.

I wanted to remember how though I pulled my hip flexor during event 1 and was feeling incredibly down, it was really up to me on how to turn things around.

And it serving as a memento, I will carry it forward as I head into the next decathlon tomorrow, the English Combined Events Championships.

The next pages of my journal are still empty. Time to continue writing a beautiful story.

Let’s write a good ending to this chapter shall we?

On Living Young, Wild and Free.

Malibu Beach, California 2012

A week and a half in Los Angeles so far, wow.

And it’s not even over yet.

I’m not sure how to describe everything that I’ve experienced, seeing and training beside the best in the world is indeed a magical feeling.

Once again this trip reminds me how lucky I am that I’m actually living my dreams and doing exactly what I want to do with my life.

Also it makes me that much more determine to succeed.

I’m under no illusion and know that doing what I’m doing cost a heck of a lot of money, and that I’ve been extremely lucky. I’ve managed to pay for this trip because I liquidated my entire stock portfolio a couple weeks ago in the market rally and made quite a decent profit.

It’s funny because right after I did that the market started sliding and now it’s not doing so well once again.

I’m not pretending that I know a heck a lot about the markets and trading (but at the same time quite a lot of effort was taken in terms of my own education and research work before I bought those stocks. Please do not think that the stock market is an easy way to make money, only if you’re willing to put in the effort and willing/able to take the risk should you try), but I do realise that once you learn to run your own race instead of following someone else, you make the moments work for you, rather than trailing in what that could have been.

And for the guts to listen to your heart and chase your dreams, the reward is that you get to live like this.

Flying off to San Francisco for the weekend, gotta keep moving. =)

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