Monday, June 20, 2011

A Passion for Triathlons

By Ho Khin Wai, 1st Year, Diploma in Banking &; Financial Services

Mention the word “Triathlon” and his face would light up immediately.

First-year Banking and Financial Services student, Gael Woon, may seem just like a normal student, but during his free time, he spends more than 10 hours a week training for triathlons!
The avid triathlete has not only participated in sports events in Singapore, but also overseas, winning 1st place in Temasek Club’s Mini Swim & Run Biathlon in 2008, 2nd place in the Tribob Singapore Spring Series Youth Aquathlon, and 3rd place(Freshmen) in the TriFactor Triathlon in 2009 & 2010. He has even represented Singapore in the Asian Cup Triathlons in Thailand and The Philippines.

Gael competing in Thailand
We caught up with Gael and asked him a few questions…

What got you started?
When I was young, I was terribly afraid of the water. My parents then enrolled me in swimming lessons to manage this problem. Over time, my phobia was curbed and I developed an increasing fondness for swimming. I started trying out for swimming competitions but never got into the finals. I felt like I have lost all hope for sports, until a good friend of mine asked me to try out for triathlons.

At my very first competition, I won third in position! I was so happy and decided to continue participating in triathlons.

What were your challenges, and how did you manage to overcome it?

Crossing the finish line

Hmm… Being a triathlete is tough. You have to be very motivated and have very strong mental strength as well as physical strength. I didn’t have very much of either before I joined the sport. You just have to believe in yourself and keep on building your endurance and physical strength.

How much time do you spend training per week?
For formal trainings, 14 hours per week.

What is the best advice you could give to youths/students who are interested?
You should have a good swimming and cycling background before you join any triathlon events. You also have to have the resilience and patience, as you will need good discipline and perseverance before you can win an award. Of course, this applies to any kind of sport as well. You must also be prepared to sacrifice much of your time, and drop activities like computer games and going out with friends and family. It’s also best if you are financially stable, as the equipment (bikes, biking gear, running shoes, etc.) can cost a bomb. Last, but not least, you have to be goal-oriented if you want to win in triathlon competitions, as it can get very competitive.

What motivates you as a triathlete?
Well… First of all, I do what I love, and I love what I’m doing, which explains my passion for being in triathlons. Secondly, I set goals for myself and that pushes me to meet them. Every medal or award I won gives me a sense of accomplishment, and that spurs me on to participate in more triathlons.
It’s like an addiction, you know? (laughs)

Gale (fourth from left) getting ready for the bicyling segment of a triathlon
As a triathlete, you must have a very intense schedule. How do you juggle your studies and sports activities?
That is true. Because of my being in triathlons, I have very little time left to my studies, friends and family. Hence, I have learnt to manage my time well so that none of them are neglected. I usually study beforehand, so that I know what’s going on during lectures, especially when I have to miss lectures due to competitions. For example, while I’m travelling to school, I’ll take that time to read my lecture notes and revise past lectures.

If there were more than 24 hours in a day, where would you devote that extra time to?
I’d say…more time for my friends and family. I really neglected them a lot because of my training. But other than that, I would want to keep striving for more awards and hopefully, be one of the best triathletes in the world.


  1. the label on the last picture spelled my name wrongly do adjust it thanks