Ng Chee Soon took part in his first triathlon in 1985. But it was only some 20 years later that he attempted his second. With a laugh, the president and managing director of Sennheiser Electronic Asia explains: “I was still in university. Once I finished school, work took over my life.”
Even during his hiatus from competitive sports, the avid swimmer and water-polo player in his student days would occasionally dream about competing in such activities again. It wasn’t until he was in his 40s, spurred by the degenerating health of his peers, that he felt “a sense of urgency to do something” about his physical well-being.
He signed up for the Osim Triathlon in 2008, inspired by the people he met through a masters swimming programme at the Singapore Swimming Club. That, says the 50-year-old, was one of his best sporting experiences. He recalls: “It was such a great sense of achievement. After years of thinking that I would never take part in a triathlon again, I was able to do it and complete it – and, frankly, do so in a much better state than when I did my first triathlon.”
What made all the difference: adequate preparation. He says: “When you’re young, you think you can conquer the world. When I did my second triathlon, I had been swimming and running regularly. It was still punishing, but I didn’t feel as if my body was about to break down.”
Over the past six years, he has participated in several triathlons, biathlons and marathons. With his heavy work and travel schedule, fitting in regular workouts can be a challenge in itself, but, for someone who is used to seeing the big picture at work – he oversees 20 markets in South-east Asia – this is not something to lose sleep over.
“I hope to improve my personal best (timing) with each event, but I’m not a professional sportsman,” he says with a sanguine smile, adding jokingly: “Even among the amateurs, I’m happy if I’m just a little behind the people at the midpoint.”
Someday, he hopes to be able to take part in the grandaddy of all triathlons – the Ironman, which comprises a 3.86km swim, an 180.25km bicycle ride, and a 42.2km run. Even though he knows it will be a challenge to find time to train for such a gruelling event, Ng knows better than to say never. “It may be a distant goal in my mind right now – but it’s just like how doing triathlons was a dream for me when I was in my 30s.”