Physiotherapist Miss Mok Ying Rong, 21, is no stranger to the Singapore distance running scene. In fact, she has been a podium finisher in a number of local running races, including winning the 21.1km Sundown Marathon in 2014 and a second-placed finish in the 42.195km Standard Chartered Marathon in 2013.
Relishing her chance to shine for Singapore on the regional stage
Now, she has also booked her slot to represent Singapore at the 10,000 metres track event at the SEA Games 2015 – in June. This will be Miss Mok’s SEA Games debut, and she is relishing this opportunity to do so.
The elite runner said, “I am proud to be running at the SEA Games in the 10,000 metres track event. I hope to rank as high as possible and I will definitely give it my best shot so that I do not let Singapore down. I am representing my nation after all.”
Track work is new to her
However, Miss Mok added that the 10,000 metres track event is something that is not exactly familiar to her – and she admitted that her pet event is the 21.1km road Half Marathon. She explained, “I am a road runner and I usually don’t do any track workouts. In fact, track work is a new addition to my training programme. And I will still be maintaining my long runs and drills.”
She added, “But I still think my preparations for the SEA Games are going great. In fact, I have a feeling that the SEA Games might be a good opportunity to get in a personal best, since I have never done any serious track workouts before.”
Chances of a Singaporean athlete winning the 10,000 metre event is slim
She also views her chances of finishing on the podium as being very slim come June because she feels that Singapore’s regional neighbours are improving just as fast as Singapore – in terms of the regional athletics scene.
“I would say that the chances of a Singaporean winning the 10,000 metres event is very slim. While the standard of track athletes in Singapore have been rising over the years, our regional neighbours have also been improving just as fast. I think that with the rate of improvement in our local athletics scene, though, Singapore may have a chance to finish on the podium for this event, maybe in another two or three years time,” Miss Mok added.
Differences between track and road running
To her, there are plenty of differences between running on the track versus road running, which she is more familiar with. The national runner said, “Road running has lots of distractions as the scenery is always changing. But when you are running on the track, it is aways the same. So on the track, I have to change my mindset and stay focused. It is a change to my usual training regime for my running.”
The last track event that she had taken part in was a few years ago, during her junior college days. She said, “That was in the school track and field championships, and I didn’t really like doing track events then. So I am excited by the fact that I have actually overcome my dislike for track running – usually when I am running on the track, I tend to be so focused that I will end up either running too fast or just slacking off simply because the scenery never changes.”
Has always been a sporty girl
Miss Mok has always been sporty since she was young. She started out as a swimmer, before switching to biathlon for a while. Then towards the end of her secondary school years, she tried out running – and realised that she was quite good at it.
“I started getting podium finishes in some junior races such as the New Balance Junior Women’s Run. I came in third, and I found myself thinking, hey running might be the thing for me. So I took it more seriously and became better at it,” she said.
Athletics career was not always smooth sailing for her
However, her decision to embark on a running career has not been completely smooth sailing for the elite runner. Miss Mok said, “As a self-coached athlete, I do not have someone to tell me when to stop, so I tend to over-push myself. So for me, the biggest hurdle is about patience and understanding my body, and knowing when to call it a day.”
In fact she had pushed herself so hard during her early days, that she soon found herself suffering from lots of injuries. She began to feel very demoralised. Said Miss Mok, “Soon after I had started out, I had five stress fractures on my left foot at one point in time. It was crazy. I found myself thinking, am I going to have all these bad injuries just because I am a runner?”
Over time though, she realised that she could do something about her injuries and that she did not need to suffer in this manner. Explained the elite runner, “I started reading about rehab and that’s when I decided to study physiotherapy. Today, as a qualified physiotherapist, I use this knowledge to help both myself as well as other runners. This is also how I have been able to stay injury free nowadays.”
Passionate in helping others stay injury free too
Besides a passion for running, Miss Mok has also developed a strong passion to help other runners stay injury free, as she knows exactly how it feels to be out of action because of injuries. She added, “I am passionate about helping sports people in general. So if I weren’t a national runner myself, I believe that I would still be a physiotherapist – but instead on the team helping other national athletes at regional and international meets.”
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