Spain’s Javier Gomez. Germany’s Sebastian Kienle. England’s Jonny Brownlee. They are all professional triathletes.
Now, Singapore’s Lam Wai Kit can be added to the list.
First Singaporean to get a triathlon pro licence
Having recently become the first Singaporean to officially obtain a professional licence for triathlon, Lam, 26, will now be in the same starting pen as world-class triathletes, when he takes part in races.
Said Lam on his pro licence, “I would not deny or lie that it is quite a different feeling to have this pro licence. I am just overwhelmed by the support that people have been showing me, through my photos and the stuff that I upload on Facebook about it.”
His friends and family were in awe
His friends and family members had pretty much been in awe when they found out that he had successfully applied for a pro licence. Said Lam, “I didn’t discuss this with my family and friends initially – only after my application was a success, did I tell them. They thought my pro licence was quite cool – because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing so they were pleased and supportive about it.”
Added Lam, “On this pro licence, I would like to give a shoutout to the few people that I have trained with, my friends and the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) Aquathlon team whom I swim and run with. They have been a big part of my triathlon journey.”
Completed his first pro race recently
Lam recently completed his first official pro triathlon race earlier this month, at the Cebu Ironman 70.3. Said Lam, “That was my first pro race so going in, I didn’t have much expectations because racing in the pro category then, I didn’t have to place pressure on myself to rank. I just went to enjoy the experience of racing as a professional.”
He added, “It was a very amazing feeling to be at the start line with some of the people we read in magazines and watch on TV. At the end of the day, whether you are competing as a pro or as an age grouper, we are all racing the same course and facing the same conditions and challenges. But still, to be at the start line together with the professionals, it was an incredible experience and I think that I did a great race too – I did not wear a watch or a bike computer so I was just trying to race to the best of my ability.”
In the end, Lam had completed the Cebu 70.3 triathlon in 4 hours and 23 minutes, which is his best timing ever at a 70.3 race.
Does not have plans to make triathlon his career
However, despite the feeling of how amazing it is, Lam quickly added that he does not have any plans to make a living out of triathlon racing despite getting his pro licence. He said, “I have no intention of turning pro in terms of making this my job. To me, getting a pro licence is about racing in another category. I just wanted to have this experience of racing in the pro ranks because it is completely different. We are still racing in the same category as the age groupers but it is the challenge of it all that i am relishing.” In fact, he added too, that he will be starting a new job as a civil servant.
Juggling work, studies and triathlon training
So how does he plan to juggle his work, family time and training for his future triathlons? Said Lam, “Athletes know that it is all about time management and priority. Work and study is definitely higher than training, but you have to work your time around your schedule. When you have the time, simply try and squeeze in the training session.”
He added, “That said, I hope that I do not disappoint when racing with this pro licence. But as long as I go out there each time and do my best though, then I will be happy with that. One thing I would like to add, is that in races, you cannot really guarantee your own result, or that of anyone else. And when you sign up for a race, you can’t be certain that you will end up with a personal best but as long as you give 110 per cent, that is the best that you can do.”
Interest in triathlon started in 2009
Lam’s interest in triathlon had started in 2009 – when he signed up for the Port Dickson International Triathlon in Malaysia, despite only having basic skills in both swimming and cycling. That was the Olympic Distance triathlon consisting of a 1.5km swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run. Said Lam, “I had started the triathlon because this multi-discipline sport intrigued me at the start. I thought it sounds challenging and I wanted to try it.”
He added, “I ran cross country for a year in my Junior College days, but as for swimming and cycling, I have zero background. When I was young, I learnt swimming survival skills but that was basically it.” So this meant that Lam really had to learn fast.
Since the Port Dickson event though, Lam was completely hooked. He said, “I developed this desire to outdo myself and every race presents a different challenge – like a never-ending puzzle waiting to be solved.”
Most memorable triathlon in Las Vegas
To date, one of his most memorable triathlons throughout his journey so far, was the 70.3 Ironman World Championships at Las Vegas, in the United States, two years ago. He said, “It rained the night before as well as on race morning. When the race started it was still raining, so the temperature was quite cold and miserable for me. With the wind blowing and the rain coming down, I just wanted to finish the race more than anything else. This was my first time I was racing in such wet conditions. I can’t take the cold so I really struggle when the water is so cold. Regionally I don’t have that problem.”
Added Lam, “Also what I remembered about this race was that there was so much crowd support, which is so different compared to many races in Singapore. It was also a different feeling to be racing with some of the best people around the world, as everyone taking part had to qualify for the World Championships.”
Tips for triathletes
What tips does Lam have, for other triathletes? He said, “I think having passion in the sport is important. So do not turn it into something too serious. While the amount of training and time decision should be serious enough, if the amount of training is becoming too stressful to enjoy the sport, then that is the tipping point. It is one thing to enjoy racing, but another thing altogether to love training – as you are spending most of your time training and not racing.”
He added, “As well, another important thing is to keep moving forward and do not let bad results get to your head and move on from it. While it is important to do reflections on what went wrong and improve on it, do not let a bad day or a bad race define your entire triathlon journey. It will also be hard to gain consistency in the sport, if you let a bad day affect you too much. There won’t be good days all the time but then again, bad days do not last either. If you have had a bad day, stay strong and positive that tomorrow will be better.”
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- Winners of 2015 Singapore international triathlon
- Last minute triathlon tips by elite Singaporean triathlete Wille Loo
- Sara Ng once swore to never do a triathlon again
- Tips to train well for your first triathlon