40 Filipinos will be competing with other triathletes including the best Malaysian triathletes at the 2018 Ironman Langkawi this November. Malaysian triathletes competing at the 2018 IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi this year are set to make 29% up the 2,400 athletes who will do battle in the iconic and challenging backdrop of the historical island. This is a significant growth compared to only 11% of the competitors back in 2014.
How has the sport grown so exponentially in Malaysia?
For starters, Malaysians have eaten into the whole endurance sports culture. This is a huge encouragement, considering the fact Malaysia was deemed the most obese nation in Southeast Asia in 2017. Testimonials from past athletes indicate different reasons. Some do it after being given a new lease of life, some do it for personal gratification, and some just do it for fun.
But the fact is, IRONMAN has inspired community sports greatly because of its appeal to all walks of life. Bear in mind, the evolution to becoming an accomplished IRONMAN is as long and gruelling as the windy and hilly terrain of Langkawi.
Rookies would have to start from scratch from 5km fun runs, to doing half and full marathons (21km & 42 km), to duathlons and swimming.
IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi Continues to Boost Langkawi’s Economy
2018 IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi has not only grown in terms of participation, its economic impact also contributes greatly to the island.
An estimated RM38 million is expected to be generated through the event this year, which gives the tourism sector a much needed injection.
This figure is a significant increase from the RM33million generated in 2017, a testament that IRONMAN Langkawi continues to be economic revelation.
“IRONMAN Malaysia creates job and business opportunities for the locals with the high number of competitors and supporters that visit the island during the event week. Over the years, the local community has embraced the event as part of their annual livelihood” added CG Lim, the Regional Director of Malaysia for IRONMAN.
This year, two men stand out from the 720 local participants.
Meet Shahrom Abdullah and Mohd Amran Abdul Ghani, who are both vying for the Best Malaysian title. The Kelantan-born Shahrom is back to defend his Best Malaysian Male title, won in comprehensive fashion after he finished with a time of 10:19:50’ last year.
Shahrom has been aggressively preparing for a second consecutive title in the iconic, yet challenging backdrop of Langkawi Island. “I have been consistently at the top of the duathlon and Powerman scene for many years. Finishing as the first Malaysian at the last year’s IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi certainly motivated me to come back and defend this year’s title,” said Shahrom.
The 39-year-old runs a bicycle shop he owns for a living, and even though he finds his hands literally full with work, never compromises training. “Due to work, I start my training early. Time management is the key for me, as I also coach my students who are participating at the IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi at night.”
“To maintain my energy levels, I usually consume energy gels and bars. But during long bike rides, I consume raw honey to keep my body going.” One challenger who is set to give Shahrom a big run for his money is Mohd Amran Abdul Ghani, a two-time Best Malaysian at the IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi.
After reigning supreme in 2014 and 2016, this firefighter was recovering from an accident and had to take a break from competing in 2017. But he is back for another crack at domestic domination. Reclaiming the title won’t be easy, with Shahrom also fired-up to defend his title.
So, how does Amran gauge his chances against Shahrom?
“The stress and pressure is high, especially when you have won the Best Malaysian Category twice. Everyone from your family to your office and sponsors are counting on you to deliver your best at all times,” concedes Amran.
“Which is why I believe the best way to deal with stress and pressure is making sure I get plenty of rest. I also have to maintain a healthy and balanced diet in order to help me recover from the vigorous training.”
The seven-time Powerman Malaysia champion also has advice for budding triathlon athletes who are competing at IRONMAN Malaysia. “I would suggest you start with 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi first. Once you have been accustomed to the distance, you can start on the full IRONMAN Malaysia.”
Another triathlete thrown into the mix is Lim Chee Yong, who finished as the Best Langkawian at last year’s edition. The self-taught swimmer also made history by qualifying for the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona on October 13.
“I’m proud to represent Langkawi and Malaysia in my BIGGEST DREAM race ever. I have a proper training plan provided by my coach, Aldrian Yeo since March 2018. I train twice a day, morning and evening before coaching, and that includes swimming 3-4 times a week, biking 4-5 times a week and running 5-6 times a week.”
“I will try my very best to finish strong in one of the toughest race in the world and make Langkawi and Malaysia proud” affirmed the Langkawi native, 21.
Just after a gruelling competition at the IRONMAN World Championship in KONA, the active and adventurous Chee Yong, is coming back to “warm down” at the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi.
‘Anything is possible’ reads the IRONMAN tagline, and that is what all 2,400 participants will preach as they strive to make an impact this year.
All those hours dedicated to training will not easily come undone.
There is only two ways about it, go hard or go home.