Triathlete Wille Loo Qualifies for SEA Games 2015

The SEA Games Triathlon Trials took place earlier last month – and Wille Loo Chuan Rong, 32, emerged as one of the two male triathletes to successfully qualify for the SEA Games.

Wille Loo will be representing Singapore at the SEA Games. Credit: David Tay.

Triathlete, Wille Loo will be representing Singapore at the SEA Games.
Credit: David Tay.

Said Loo, who is self-employed, “Going into the trials, of course I hoped that I would qualify for the SEA Games. I think that all of us who took part in the trials went in wanting to qualify, and hoped we would.”

Indeed, Loo was pleased by how the Trials had turned out for him – as he had not been confident, leading up into it. Said Loo, “The race went very well and since I had qualified, it was a good day out. I thought the race might come down to the run and after falling behind on the first lap, it was a big thrill to have fought back to catch the boys in front and secure my spot for the SEA Games.”

First time representing Singapore at a major regional event

This will be Loo’s first time representing Singapore at a major regional event and he is currently training hard – and hopes to win a medal for Singapore. He explained, “Everyone will be training super hard, so it is a matter of making sure the sessions count – and to stay injury free over the next few weeks. It will come down to who races the best on the day itself.”

Added Loo, “I am not going to the Games just to be a mere participant. I’m putting in all this effort because I want to win. I think a medal is within reach. We know most of our regional competitors, and will probably get a chance to race against them before the SEA Games.”

Hopes home advantage will give him the upper hand

However, Loo hopes that having home advantage at this year’s SEA Games should give him the upper hand. He added, “The race course is likely to be similar to the Singapore International Triathlon route, so our competitors will also be familiar with it. But the real advantage is having our family and friends at the race. The hometown support will be something we will feed off.”

His introduction to triathlon was ten years ago

Loo’s introduction to triathlon was about ten years ago, when his friend, a national triathlete at the time, introduced him to the sport. Said Loo, “I picked up triathlon shortly after I finished my National Service. One of my very good friends was a triathlete on the national team at the time and he used to tell me about his training and races. Just listening to him really got me inspired. So at the first chance that I had, I took my savings and bought a bicycle. After that, I didn’t really have a choice, because I promised my mum I was totally going to ride the bike everyday.”

A lot of sacrifices had to be made to becoming a national triathlete

But with his decision to become a triathlete, a lot of sacrifices had to be made. Explained Loo, “There isn’t a lot of time left to spend with family and friends sometimes – no late nights, no sleeping in. Often, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but my wife, family and friends are very supportive. They may not always understand why I have to run around in lycra so much, but they have always supported me wholeheartedly. I love triathlon, so I accept the sacrifices. But if I can bring home a medal at the SEA Games, it will be a small way to repay that support.”

Finds the swimming leg the hardest

Loo is certainly passionate about his triathlon. But which leg of the triathlon does Loo find the hardest? Ironically he says that he finds the swimming leg of the triathlon the most stressful – even though he comes from a swimming and water polo background.

And added Loo, “Being with the leaders of the main pack during the swim is so important too. You don’t want to blow your race right at the start and be left chasing the pack, the entire day.”

Dashing towards the finishing line! Credit: Vincent Ang.

Dashing towards the finishing line!
Credit: Vincent Ang.

Has faced many ups and downs in his career

Throughout Loo’s triathlon career, he has faced many ups and downs. Obviously, one of his high points is the SEA Games triathlon trials this year. Another is the 2011 Aviva Singapore 70.3 event. Said Loo, “I had a great race there and it was one of those days where everything seemed to fall into place. I won my age group, was placed very well overall and qualified for the World Championships – but I didn’t take my slot there, though.”

One of his lowest points in terms of triathlon was the Ironman 70.3 Philippines in 2010. Said Loo, “It was a 70.3 race that I really wanted to do well at. But two weeks before the race, I fell quite sick and was still on medication when I took to the start. Everything was going all right till the end of the bike and then it felt like a death march on the run. Physically, it was horrible. I lost about 3 to 4 kgs after that race, but it was the mental battle to deal with my failure at the race and not quit, that was the hardest thing to handle. All I wanted to do was to sit down and stop, but having a DNF was the only outcome worse than a poor timing.”

Dreams of becoming a professional triathlete one day

Nevertheless though, Loo has been definitely going places in terms of his triathlon career – and he may one day, fulfil his lifelong dream of becoming a professional triathlete. Said Loo, “To be able to line up against some of my triathlon idols and race them will be very cool. I plan to move back to half ironman racing in the future and eventually Ironman, so making it to the World Championships in Kona one day, is definitely on my list.”

Tips for aspiring triathletes

And what tips does Loo have for aspiring triathletes? He said, “You don’t need to spend loads of money on equipment. There is lots of time to do that. But to start, just sign up and jump right in. Triathletes are a very social and friendly bunch, very willing to welcome newbies. Once you’ve done your first triathlon, you won’t want to stop.”

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