In 1992, the first triathlon was NUS short course and progressed to bigger and longer race, annual ABC Stout Olympic Distance (OD) Triathlon
For the next few years, racing was like a drug. I love the ‘high’ from completing and a greater high from winning and improving my split times. This kept me focused on training
In 1998, Asian Triathlon Championships held in Chennai, India exposed me to a higher level of competition. With the administrative support of Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS) and the incoming triathlon coach, Mr. Guo Wei Dong, my split times improved for the 3 different disciplines. The bike leg has been the strongest and is apparent in the later competitive years.
In 1999, I had decided to make a racing “career” switch to competitive road cycling. his was where I found out that there were lots to learn from the world of competitive road cycling. There are indeed differences associated with the training methodology and it is here at this stage when I truly appreciated the different riding styles and positioning found in road and triathlon. The cycling leg in triathlons is no different from the Individual Time Trials (ITT’s) found in road cycling. What is interesting is the use of Team Time Trial tactics in non-drafting races (sounds familiar?)
Mervyn Liew or Merv (a.k.a. “ter-kar” or pig-leg), during the period of the century, was the nickname provided by the person known Ah Hock (a.k.a. Kenneth Tan from Cycleworx). Cycleworx then was located in Serangoon Gardens and that was literally our second home for the National Team. The team then comprised of Francis, Mong Chye, John Ong, Bernard Wong (who struck GOLD for the 30 km Track Points Race in the SEA Games). There was also a host of other reserve riders who nonetheless were part of the team.
Other races that I had competed under the national flag were the Tour of Thailand, 1999 & 2000. What I can say is that the competition is amazingly TOUGH!!! You need to turn professional in order to have a chance of smelling the yellow jersey. Having said that whilst representing Singapore in Triathlon and Cycling, having a dedicated coach who has been in the thick of racing is paramount to a meaningful racing career and is part of the jigsaw to the coverted gold.
On the local scene, by winning a few local races and by virtue of points, I was made Road Champion, Singapore for the year 1999. It was really a once in a lifetime experience racing for that year.
Interestingly, the relays category of the triathlon races in Malaysia was beginning to make sense. A team win in the relay category made financial sense. We had won perhaps 10 races over a period of 18 months. Looking back, that was sheer fun. John Ong (Singapore’s current time-trial record holder) can testify to that!