People Are Awesome: Helena Wong

Helena Wong, representing Singapore in the London 2012 Olympic Games, Weightlifting 53kg category. Picture taken in Loughborough 2011.

Got news this week that my former Loughborough sports science course mate from Singapore, Helena Wong, has been selected as a wildcard to represent Singapore in the upcoming London 2012 Olympic Games.

I must say I’m incredibly proud of her, for I watched her pick up the sport of weightlifting here in the UK pretty much randomly, and witnessed her stratospheric rise, going to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the 2011 SEA Games and now finally to become an Olympian at the 2012 London Games.

She’s worked incredibly hard and broke through so many physical and mental barriers along the way, earning her spot at the games.

As happy as I am for her, a small part of me looks on a little envious, for I watched her live the same dreams I had, even though I started out earlier and worked no less, yet she’s made it and I’m still miles away.

I guess some people have it a little easier than others, that’s just the way the world works, no point comparing yourself because your life is the only one you’ll actually live. I guess I am meant to struggle a little more than others, but that’s ok.

The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs… one step at a time. – Joe Girard

About 3 more weeks to my last decathlon of the season. Should I go on after or should I stop? It’s still swinging around in my head.

Some days I wake up feeling I’m ready for another 4 years of this, other days I’m ready to call it right there and then.

Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one. – Bruce Lee


On the Inspirational One.

Nicolas Welzl, riding away in his vespa.

It’s not often that you can attribute the majority of how you got to where you are at down to a single person, but for me that person has to be Nicolas Welzl.

He’s one of my closest friends during my school days in VJC, whilst we were both in the House Committee, and he was the one who opened up my mind to a life without limits.

I think growing up in Singapore you get bombarded by messages from society and the education system about how life should be led in order to be successful, but then you realise as you grow up that there actually is no such thing as the ideal life that society keeps trying to force down your throat and life is actually whatever you want to make out of it.

Nic showed me early on what it is to march to your own tune instead of desperately trying to keep pace with someone else’s music. He taught me how to view the world as it is, realising and making it perfect as it is, not distorting it to what ones idealising it to be.

And it’s funny that through the years after we left JC, we didn’t keep in close contact, maybe an occasional email here or an odd cup of coffee there. However every time we meet up we realised that even though the trajectory we’ve set ourselves when we were younger has led us through to very different places in life, we both ended up learning the same few things, that life is short, life is beautiful and that life is a chance for you to create some amazing.

We both agree how travel, not just holiday snapshot-ting to post on your facebook wall and pretend you are well traveled kind of travel, but to actually be there and see the world from a different perspective, really does wonders in opening up your hearts and minds.

So Nic, if you happen to be reading this, thank you very much for everything and keep being awesome the way you already are.

Thanks for the company and coffee, cheers buddy!

People Are Awesome: William Sharman

Coach George Maciukiewicz with William Sharman

Coach George Maciukiewicz with William Sharman

The hurdles guru and one of the world’s best sprint hurdlers, both awesome and amazing people.

Just came across a BP advertisment campaign featuring William Sharman. Sometimes I forget how amazing these guys are because I see them regularly and amazingly am training with them. George took me under his wings when I had no technical ability to clear hurdles at all and William has always been encouraging me every since the first time we met.

A lot of people don’t understand what William had to go through the last season, I was around when he just broke his wrist from a hurdles accident at the track. To come back from that and to finish 8th in the world championships is no easy feat.

Not to mention he’s a great dad and he has such a lovely family around him.

That’s why I believe he will be certainly a man to watch out for in the London 2012 Olympic games.

‘You’ll hit 7000 points in 2 years mate, you certainly got the kit.’ That what William Sharman told me when I first trained with him in 2009.

Thanks for your vote of confidence in me mate. It’s taking a little more time than 2 years, but I’ll get there I promise.

I’ll admit, for all the talk that I often say I’m untalented, I’m actually blessed with the height and built of a decathlete. For a Singaporean male I’m 1.84m tall and right now 84kg. During a jump testing in 2010 (basically standing broad jump into a sand pit), I came second in the group, losing to William who jumped 3.34m (I jumped 2.98m).

What I lacked is time and experience and I guess there’s no short cut to resolving it.

‘Do not feel inadequate if you’re simply inexperienced’ – Eric Grimson, MIT

Thanks mate, it really meant a lot to me.

People are Awesome: Maxim Hall

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‘I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.’ – Bruce Lee

I first met Max in my first year here during a discus session and subsequently in my second year, we began to train together for the other events as well. Not only did he guide me in preparing and completing my first decathlon, but he showed me what being a decathlete is about.

Earned his GB junior international vest 6 years ago, but since suffered a knee injury and had to undergo surgery to repair it. Because of that incident, he had to switch his take off foot for the jumping events in order to continue competing as a decathlete. He also chose to stay on after graduating from Loughborough Uni 3 years ago and worked two part-time jobs to pay the bills whilst continuing to train and live in Loughborough.

I realised more than anything that being a decathlete is about being in a state of mind, an attitude that you carry with the belief that you can get through just about anything the world can throw at you, and still keep pushing forward. It’s about not being afraid of a little hard work and pain along the way, picking up a task and just getting on with it.

Though at the same time, be able to not take everything too seriously and just be with the flow of things, enjoying life in general through the ups and downs of it. His trademark mismatched socks and alternate coloured laces on his spikes are a testimony to that attitude.

Recently finished 4th at the England Athletics Senior Combined Events Championships (indoor heptathlon) and finally earned himself a senior GB vest after all these years with a slot to compete at the Combined Events Indoor International at France.

Max, it has been an absolute pleasure and thank you for continuing to push ahead and guide me in my development as a decathlete.

Best of all, I got a sneaky suspicion that you’re going to be seeing him on the telly next summer during the London Olympics. (Just look out for the guy who wears alternate coloured socks.)

p.s. I’ve also added a new page to my blog ‘results‘ where you can find my previous performances and current goals, with a link to detailed results of my competitions in the UK so far. Do check it out!

People are Awesome: Lance Tan

Lance Tan, SG national team 400m runner.

“Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” – Mary Kay Ash

It was 2008 when I first got a call from Lance that something bad happened.

He just tore his ACL during a football match.

I remember visiting him right after his operation and seeing him with a braced up leg. The doctors told him he couldn’t run competitive again. For someone that has been running quick since he was 13, what a blow it must have been. All the hopes and dreams, falling apart right in front of him.

But he didn’t choose to believe that, for he still had a fight in him.

1 year later, he ran his PB, cutting his old record by a whole second (which in 400m terms is a massive deal).

Cause sometimes the only person you gotta to believe is yourself.

Well bro, remember the pact we made? I still have that poster you gave me before I left for Loughborough. We might be getting a little old, and we haven’t gotten as quick as we hoped. But you know what, after all these years, it’s amazing that we’re still here, and that we’re still fighting.

So let’s finish that fight my brother, doesn’t matter how it’ll end up, but let’s make it one that’s worth remembering before we start to fade.

535 days to go, get moving.

p.s. About the quote, the bumble bee can definitely fly thanks to the laws of physics. The quote is referring to a time when the scientist haven’t figured out how it could with the knowledge of that time. Click to see the wikipedia link about this (refer to the myth section of the article).

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