Team 2ndskin was formally established in Dec 2012 and it has been a whirlwind year for the team as we close in on our first 12 months as a unit. Along the way, we have interviewed all the team athletes one by one for you to get to know them better. As we draw a close to our first year and head on down towards 2014, let’s have a heart-to-heart chat with Team 2ndskin Principal Eugene and see what he has to say about the team….
Good morning, Eugene. We normally start off our athlete profile with some background. Let’s do the same for you. Tell us your story.
Good morning! I’m not sure exactly where to start, but here goes. I have a loving wife and 2 beautiful daughters who I come home to every day. I hold a 9-6 job in a dynamic and fast-paced industry that keeps me on my toes all the time. Being ambitious and fueled by passion, I run the 2ndskin brand together with my awesome buddy Jason and at the same time, I’m a strategic partner/owner in a retail brick & mortar bike store. If that wasn’t enough to fill my plate, I’m also the Team Principal of Team 2ndskin, a group of committed and passionate athletes who have become like family to me. I also indulge in quite a bit of running and cycling (more out of passion and fitness rather than competition) and I strive to keep myself fit as much as I can.
And we keep hearing excuses from people who say they don’t have time to exercise! How do you juggle your time with all your commitments?
I live on 2 principles - Prioritizing and Multi-tasking. My brain only gets to sleep when I sleep. I plan my day and what I need to accomplish when I go for my early morning runs/rides. Most of the time, I brain-storm business strategies or team directions during my workouts. I do the same on my drive to work, during lunch hour and on my drive home. Its mentally exhausting, but I love what I do, so it keeps me going.
At home, we don’t have any domestic help, so I take my fair share of household chores and squeeze in the family time. There’s honestly not much I can fit into 24 hours a day, so I make do and prioritize. It has worked so far for me.
You say you enjoy running and cycling. Tell us more about that. Have you been running / cycling all your life?
No I’ve not. It has been a pretty recent indulgence. I won’t go so far as to say that I have been an athletic person from young, I was always a bit on the chubbier side (for a better term!) all my life. I did represent my school in handball and was always active in intra-school sports. Most people don’t know this, but I ran my first half marathon at PBIM in 1995 at the age of 16. My passion in life has always been football and I played some competitive football during my university years. However, in 2003 and 2005 I injured my knee playing football and I underwent surgery twice to my left knee, a major one too (reconstruction of the ACL). After the 2nd surgery, the orthopedic surgeon advised me to give up multi-directional movement sports (football, squash, tennis, badminton, etc). After rehabilitation, I decided to take up running and cycling for fitness and I have not looked back since.
All Team 2ndskin members are very strong athletes in their individual ways. Do you feel that as the Team Principal, you need to be on par or better than them in their sport, to gain their respect?
I think it’s a misconception that the team leader needs to be better than the team members in terms of skill or capacity. I know I’m not better than any one of them (If I am, then they’d better buck up! LOL). My role is a strategic one. I plan, formalize and strategize what the team should do and achieve. I look at things in a high-level manner and I try my best to give the best to the team and try to make their achievements recognizable. I work with partners and sponsors and create engagement for the team. I know the team respects me for what I do and that is enough for me to carry this through. All said and done, I have to walk the talk too, so I definitely cannot lag too far behind in terms of training and competition, so I put in my fair share of training as well. I also take a lot of advice from the team athletes when it comes to training and nutrition and I must say it has served me very well!
There’s a good mix of gender and age in the team. Did that come along naturally, or was that planned?
You can say that it was naturally planned. Haha.
My intention from the start when the plan to formalize Team 2ndskin took place was to have a group of people, who could reach out to the community and this group of athletes has to be easily embraced by the public. All of Team 2ndskin athletes have a story to tell; their backgrounds are diverse and their experiences different and their strengths individual. Put them together though, they are the Super Six.
That was the high-level mould. Delving deeper, we definitely needed several seasoned athletes and those who have experience on their side, to guide the younger athletes and upcoming ones. Therefore, it was practical to have a mix of younger team members with lots of potential to tap on, and seasoned team members who have lots of experience to learn from. Our youngest athlete is only 24 this year and our oldest is 36, so with an age gap of only 12 years, we’re not really experiencing the generation gap and the synergy within the team is very very good. I try to play a role as a mentor to the younger team members as well, and they know that they can come to me for guidance as well as advice in all aspects of life, not just sports.
In the last 12 months, do you think Team 2ndskin has progressed in the manner that you had envisioned it to?
Honestly, I think we have come a long way in the last 12 months. We have exceeded my initial expectations for the team, but we’re definitely not resting on our laurels. More and more people are recognizing the team now and that is a good thing. Since the start of the year, we have had increasing numbers of people who have asked the team for advice, tips and generally opinion on running, nutrition and gear and we welcome all queries and approach without any restrictions. We will endeavour to provide as accurate information to the best of our experience and knowledge at all times.
Look at Ee-Van, he is always sharing information, training tips and advice without restriction. People should value him for his efforts. Roy is a 2x stroke survivor who has gone on to finish a 160km ultra. How many ‘clean’ medical history runners can claim to have done 160km? Chan juggles heavy responsibility and commitment as a Navy Officer and keeps himself in tip-top condition year in year out. Annie is a role model for women in running and her achievements speak for itself. Steven is the most humble person I know, who has bags of experience behind him. He has done what others only dream of and has lots to share. Irene lives the life where many of us do not dare. She is putting her passion in sports ahead of her studies and she is committed to her dream to turn professional one day. My vision is to have this team of outstanding individuals inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle and that juggling a full time job, family commitments and passion for sports is very achievable.
This year we have accomplished several good initiatives. Project CARES was a success for both beneficiaries, Dignity For Children Foundation and NASAM. We will definitely continue with this for 2014 and hopefully beyond. We had an opportunity for direct engagement with runners at our support station at MWM as well as a fitness talk we conducted that was organized by Garmin Malaysia. Both were also well received and that was very encouraging.
2014 will be very challenging. Internally within the team, 2013 has been a bar that has been set to a level that we will want to surpass. Fingers crossed, we will.
Very encouraging indeed! Am sure it would not have been possible without support. Tell us about Team 2ndskin sponsors and partners. How has the relationship been with them?
I am very grateful to our 3 main sponsors for 2013, Skechers Malaysia, Hammer Nutrition (Global Aerotech) and Garmin Malaysia (AECO Technologies) for believing in us and supporting us 110% all the time. When Team 2ndskin started out in Dec 2012, we were “nobodies”, so to speak. Skechers, Hammer and Garmin are all giants in their respective industry, with a long history of outstanding products, but they took the time to listen to us and they believed in our team vision and plan. Throughout the year, they have been behind us all the way and have never put pressure or unreasonable expectations on the team. Midway through 2013, we hooked up with a local setup, Kraftfit Compression who are also a bunch of passionate sports people and live the same dreams and visions as us. We are also proud to be associated with Kraftfit and hope to help them establish themselves as a brand to be reckoned with in the future.
I am lucky to come into contact with the people behind Skechers, Hammer, Garmin and Kraftfit in Malaysia, both on a working as well as personal level as they are some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. I take this opportunity to thank all Team 2ndskin sponsors for 2013 for the supply of excellent products and support as well as being a pillar of strength for the last 12 months.
Will they still be supporting Team 2ndskin for 2014?
Wouldn’t you like to know! For now, I’m keeping all potential partnerships and sponsorships for the team for 2014 under wraps. None of the team athletes know about next year’s plans yet so don’t even think about trying to pry information from them! I will definitely make an announcement come end Dec when we launch the 2014 plan.
Guess we will just have to wait for that! So what are your plans for Team 2ndskin for 2014?
I’m definitely looking at a higher level of engagement with the sports community for 2014, especially with beginners and those who have just started running / cycling / fitness as a lifestyle. The plan is to have several community programs organized by Team 2ndskin that will help beginners to the sport embrace the lifestyle and continue the momentum. This is definitely one of the ways the team can give a little back to the community. I have done something similar on a personal level and smaller scale with a group of runners who do 10km and were stepping up to the 21km distance. They have been very receptive and appreciative of advice and guidance I have given to them and I would like to take that to a larger level with the community, via Team 2ndskin.
On a more individual level with the team athletes, I am looking at assisting them to reach their potential and to achieve the goals they have set for themselves in 2014. There will be more one-to-one sessions that I will have to see which areas that I can help them with to the best of my capacity.
It looks like exciting times ahead in store for the team. What about yourself? What are your plans for 2014 outside of Team 2ndskin?
Yes it is! I am very excited for 2014 to kick off for Team 2ndskin and I believe the team will embrace the challenges ahead in a positive manner.
On a personal front, I would definitely like to spend more quality time with my family, take more breaks and smell the roses a little bit more. I also hope that 2ndskin as a brand keeps growing and will reach further shores and gain more prominence. I can definitely tell you that I have a big surprise in store for 2014, but it is too early to say anything right now. Will definitely share the news when the time is right!
Thank you very much for taking time out for this. Before we end this chat, is there anything else you want to share or say?
One last thing…. Jason, EV, Annie, Chan, Roy, Steven and Irene; I am very proud to know all of you and what you continuously do inspire me. Thank you all for being a part of this team. It is definitely my honour to walk down this road with each and every one of you. Let’s make 2014 memorable!