Tuesday, 22 October 2013


The latest athlete to join Team 2ndskin is a young, energetic lady who is fully committed to her sport. Say hello to Irene Chong.
Irene in Team 2ndSkin Kit

Irene is a member of the national elite triathlon team and top female triathlete in the ITU category in Malaysia. She trains hard, swims like a dolphin and rides a road bike like a train. We get into her head to get some tips on how to be a top triathlete and what keeps her motivated in her choice of sport.

1. First up Irene, let us start with you telling us about yourself. Where are you from and what do you do now? Maybe you can also share some family background?

I'm from a Siew Bao town- Seremban. Currently I'm studying at University Malaya. In my family, I'm the only one crazy in sports. I have 3 younger sisters and 3 of them are all crazy in studies and I have 1 younger brother.

2. Which of your triathlon disciplines did you first start with – swimming, cycling or running? Tell us about it.

I ventured into my 1st triathlon at A'Famosa triathlon in 2007 as a relay swimmer. Then slowly I started to race in sprint category for 2 years before I started my first Olympic distance triathlon at PD international triathlon. I started swimming at 5 years old and my first swimming competition was when I was 7 years old. So since I was young I was already a mermaid!

3. Wow! You have been swimming since you were very young. Do you enjoy swimming? Some people find the sport boring in that you swim laps over and over again. How do you manage that?

I enjoy swimming very much. As I said I'm a mermaid since I was young, I like to be in the swimming pool. I feel the freedom when I swim, I can play around in the pool without fear that I will injury myself compared with other sports. I feel peaceful when I swim and i can clam my mind from the stress. Sometimes I will feel bored in swimming laps over and over again. When I have this feeling, I will find some swimming kaki (partner) to swim together or otherwise I will join my university swimming team for training together. I have team training 4 days a week and that will help me from getting bored too.

4. We hear that you represented Malaysia in synchronized swimming? Tell us about it.

Haha....about synchronized swimming!! I represented Malaysia in synchronized swimming in 2004. I went to the Doha Asian Games and World Cup in Japan in 2006. Synchronized swimming is not very popular in Malaysia and there are not much opportunity for competition in Malaysia. If want to go overseas for competition, we have to train really hard to fight for a place because normally the national association will only send 8 swimmers for team event while during that time we had 16 swimmers in the team. That simply means you must be really very good only you will get to go for competition.  I stopped indulging in this sport in 2007 and picked up triathlon in the same year.
Irene In Action. Photo belongs to Irene
5. And now, you’re a national triathlete with Malaysia’s elite triathlon team. Do you feel pressure every time you represent the country?

I love to enjoy the race and I like to finish. I always try to race with a big smile, so I wouldn't race with pressure (I don't want too). I don't care what people think about me but I will try my very best to race hard.

6. Tell us how a weekly training program for you looks like. Do you train every day? Which discipline do you focus on the most?

I have training everyday even on Sunday. I will focus more on swimming and running. Swimming is my stronger discipline but I still need to improve so that I can easily keep up with world ranked triathletes. Running is very important too as the running can make me win or lose the race, because running is the last discipline and most of the ITU triathletes run very fast.
Making Malaysia Proud. Photo from Irene
7. How do you keep yourself motivated in training day in day out? What keeps you going when training gets tough?

In my life, I met a very good mental teacher who taught me not to give up easily and hold on until the very last. I always remember this when I have hard time during my training. He told me that we will always experience hardship during the process but after finishing the process, I will get double or more reward from my hard work. That thought, is what keeps me going everytime.

8. If someone wants to take up the sport of triathlon, do you think a swimmer, cyclist or runner will have the most advantage in terms of improving at triathlon? Why?

In my opinion, a swimmer will have a little more advantage. This is because it is not easy to improve swimming if the technique is not right and is not easy to learn swimming, compared with running and cycling. But personally, as a swimmer, I have to work hard to improve my running ability.
IJM 10km. Irene first podium for Team 2ndSkin
9. What is your personal goal or target for 2014? What do you hope to achieve?
My personal goals for 2014 are:
1) Wellington World University Games, New Zealand in March
2) Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Great Britain in July
3) 17th Incheon Asian Games, Korea in September
I don't target any podium positions yet but all those "big" games are very important for me to get more experience and to learn more from the top ranked athletes to aid me in getting ready for 2015 Sea Games in Singapore.

10. If someone who has been doing triathlon for a while, comes up to you and says that he/she wants to improve his/her Olympic distance timing, what sort of advice would you give?

First, I think he/she has to improve their swim timing, try to come out from the swim with the lead group so that they have a group for him/her to cycle with, and work together on the bike. He/she has to improve on the running timing too as the running is the last discipline that can make a lot difference on the timing. Proper swimming techniques are important as swimming is all about resistance in water. Speed-work and interval running are also very good training techniques to improve speed.

11. Lastly, before we wrap things up, tell us a little bit about being the new girl on the block with Team 2ndskin. How are the other athletes and what are are your thoughts about the team?

I love and am very proud to be in the team. All the team members are so cool. We are ever willing to share our experience, motivate each other and also cheer for each other. Thanks a lot to our team sponsors - Skechers, Hammer Nutrition, Garmin, Kraftfit and 2ndskin for making us such a good team. I would like to stay on with the Team 2ndskin for 2014 and make the team proud, make the team's name rise and shine!!

With that, we come to a close and we wish Irene all the best in her next race which is the Asian Cup in Hong Kong.

Stay tuned for more Team 2ndskin updates.

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