2018 IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi – Press Releases
Have you wondered how Ironman started? What can the participants expect at 2018 IRONMAN Malaysia, Langkawi? Below are the official press releases by Ironman Malaysia to give you a valuable insight into this pinnacle of endurance challenges and whet the appetite of their many fans as we count the days to its exciting start…
PART 1 – IRONMAN CELEBRATES 40 YEARS: GOING THE DISTANCE TO ACHIEVE GREATER HEIGHTS
When John Collins had a debate with his friends if cyclists, swimmers or runners were the most accomplished athletes, little did he know he would be the founder of a fitness revolution called the IRONMAN, founded some 40 years ago.
Of course, tech genius scientist and engineer aficionado Tony Stark in the Avengers would only popularize the word IRONMAN, but we’re not talking cool superhero with an armoured suit who can fly.
IRONMAN is defined as the epitome of fitness and endurance, where athletes are pushed to their limits with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike, before finishing off with a 26.2-mile run.
As we reflect on the evolution of IRONMAN after four decades, how exactly did it begin?
A debate birthed IRONMAN
On one sunny Hawaiian day in 1977, former United States Navy Commander John Collins was arguing with his friends on who were the better athletes – swimmers or runners.
John threw cycling into the mix too, and a light-bulb moment of combining all events into one mega-race sprang up to settle this debate.
“I said the gun would go off and the clock would keep running, and whoever finished first, we’d call him the IRONMAN. It got a really good laugh at that time,” John said of the name.
IRONMAN would be no laughing matter, branding itself as one of the signature endurance events in the world.
The event started growing both in participation and commercially, and over the next 40 years IRONMAN would reach millions through television coverage.
A budding IRONMAN participant had to be extremely committed and well trained to tackle all three sports at one go, while completing the mission within a stipulated time. IRONMAN athletes are committed, disciplined and focus individuals.
Sports Illustrated took IRONMAN to the next level
While IRONMAN was getting popular through word of mouth, but it was Tom Warren who put the event on the global map.
Gordon Haller, a taxi driver from Honolulu would win the first ever IRONMAN race with only 12 finishers out of 15 participants in 1978, but the following race would propel the event to new heights.
When Warren won the second IRONMAN series in 1979, his victory was lapped up by international sports magazine Sports Illustrated.
A 10-page journey of IRONMAN depicted how some of the key characters faced the grueling challenges to success.
The publicity on pushing one’s body to the limit was a game changer.
Warren became a minor celebrity, and Collins was bombarded with letters of interests from all over the world from people who wanted to participate.
Evolution of IRONMAN
IRONMAN was still considered a hobby in the late 70’s as people continued to push their bodies to test themselves in what would be described as a social setting.
But IRONMAN was rapidly gaining in popularity, thanks to more sponsorship and televised coverage.
Women were also taking part, which added to the lure of the sport.
The IRONMAN series continued to expand, and in 1985, IRONKIDS was born.
A $100,000 donation by an anonymous donor also increased the prestige of IRONMAN, and prize money continued to escalate in the following years. As it became more competitive and demanding in numbers, a governing body was needed to manage and so the World Triathlon Corporation was born.
These additions set the tone for the race to expand to the other continents as well as Asia. The race anchored itself in Malaysia back in year 2000 envisioned by Tun Mahathir to bring international events to the island of Langkawi.
By 2017, IRONMAN was watched by 4.7 million viewers’ worldwide, taking in more than 33 million minutes of live coverage.
Lyn Lemaire makes history as first women finisher
While Warren basked in the limelight after his momentous victory, Lyn Lemaire would stamp her mark as the first female finisher in the IRONMAN.
She finished fifth overall in 12 hours 55 minutes, some 20 minutes behind the winner.
Her feat paved the way for more women to challenge their male counterparts. IRONMAN started the Women for Tri initiative to increase female participation at all levels of triathlon.
The program seeks to identify and diminish primary barriers to entry and mobilize triathlon advocates to encourage and engage female athletes across all race distances and representing all athletic abilities.
Participation triples in 1981
Only three years after IRONMAN began, it tripled in participation. 326 athletes took part in the 1981 race where athletes were no longer required to have their own support crew. The participation of women also continued to increase, with 22 ladies piting their forces.
Kona – Where IRONMAN legends are born
IRONMAN continued to evolve as the years progressed.
Valerie Silk, who sponsored the game-changing second IRONMAN wanted to move the race away from the densely populated area of O’ahu to the Kona, a ‘moku’ or district in Hawaii.
Then, Kona was known for its volcanic slopes and ideal temperature to grow specialized coffee.
But it was seen as the ideal new home for IRONMAN, because of extreme conditions that would put contestants to the sword.
With swirling crosswinds that reached up to 45mph and scorching temperatures of 35 degress, Kona became the ideal fitness battlefield.
“You know you’ve been to hell and back, and that becomes part of the mystique,” recalled Silk of Kona.
But more importantly, Kona hosts the annual IRONMAN World Championship every October, where legends are born.
Every year, thousands of participants fight to make it to the holy grail of the IRONMAN, sometimes also dubbed the “Superbowl”, or the “Masters”.
It is a feat like no other, which adds to the allure of Kona.
IRONMAN also needed to change the cut-off timing as a measure of safety, and turned up the intensity to 17 hours from the initial 18 hours and 30 minutes for the full distance.
Why IRONMAN Langkawi continues to attract participants
It is fitting Langkawi will be part of IRONMAN’s 40th anniversary.
With its long, windy roads accompanied by picturesque white sandy beaches and hilly, windy terrains, Langkawi remains a beautiful beast that participants yearn to conquer every year.
IRONMAN Langkawi started off in 2000, and ran for a decade and was reintroduced back in 2014 with the support of Malaysia Major Events under the Ministry of Tourism.
Why bring it back to Langkawi?
“The scenery is stunning, the event is well organized and the race course is one of the most unique,” enthused three-time IRONMAN Malaysia Female Pro-Champion Diana Riesler of the island steeped in history.
“Everybody who wants to do a very special IRONMAN has to put IRONMAN Malaysia on their bucket list.”
The intriguing and challenging terrain, the natural charm of the island and the immense hospitality of its people is why participants keep returning to Langkawi.
IRONMAN Langkawi has attracted other sportsmen too.
Malaysia race car driver Nabil Jeffri participated in the IRONMAN 70.3, LANGKAWI 2017 and finished in five hours 24 minutes, while former national squash player Azlan Iskandar finished in six hours five minutes.
To be a part of the event has been the dream of many young and old in Langkawi.
Lim Chee Yong, a young Langkawaian has watched the event over the years as he was growing up. The dedication of the athletes inspired Chee Yong to be a participant himself.
The 21-year-old started training and worked hard to achieve this dream. In 2017, Chee Yong became the first Langkawian and the only Malaysian to qualify for the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship in KONA.
The most senior IRONMAN athlete in Malaysia and the author of his IRONMAN journey in his book “The bumble bee in me”, Mr Yee Sze Mun at the young age of 83 years old tells us on what motivates him.
“IRONMAN is about ordinary people performing extraordinary feats thought impossible. I too believe I could do it, and did. Thus began my 20 plus years of love hate relationship with the IRONMAN. Just continue to believe in yourself, follow your dreams and never give up. You will become a better person, physically, mentally and in every aspect of your life.”
The future of IRONMAN
IRONMAN has jumped leaps and bounds since its inception four decades ago. The mission for 2018 will be to see an increase in participation to more than 2,000, and to see an increase in participating nations (60 countries took part in 2017).
Perhaps down the road, another milestone could see IRONMAN making it to the pinnacle of professional elite sports, the Olympic Games?
While that thought is still far-fetched, the continued growth and prestige of IRONMAN could produce the unimaginable.
“Anything is possible” reads the IRONMAN tagline, and aptly so. The sport will not stop achieving greatness.
PART 2 : Q&A WITH LIM CHEE YONG, THE FIRST LANGKAWIAN AND THE YOUNGEST MALAYSIAN EVER TO QUALIFY FOR IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN KONA, HAWAII
Lim Chee Yong or better known as Chee Yong, was only 20 years old when he won the 3rd Place in his age group (18-24 years old), which automatically qualifies him for IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. To add icing on the cake, he was crowned as the Best LANGKAWIAN for 2017 IRONMAN Malaysia. He is set to compete with top qualifiers from all over the world at IRONMAN World Championship Kona this upcoming 13th October.
Without further ado, here is the Q&A with Lim Chee Yong!
Full name : Lim Chee Yong
Place of Birth : Langkawi, Kedah Darul Aman
Date of Birth : 29 September 1997
Occupation : Part Time Swim Coach
1. What is your greatest strength?
Answer: My love & passion for this sport.
2. How do you handle stress and pressure?
Answer: By asking for friends’ advice and opinions and try to visualize a solution for a win-win outcome. Stay calm and focus on the BIG picture 💡
3. What was your greatest accomplishment as an athlete?
Answer: The moment when I crossed the finish line and found out that I finished top three in my age group (18-24 years old) category for 2017 IRONMAN Malaysia and qualified for IRONMAN Kona World Championship 2018!
4. What excites you the most about a career as an athlete?
Answer: To beat my personal best for triathlon races and try my best to inspire people to follow their dreams!
5. You are a part-time swimming coach. How do you find time for training?
Answer: I’m a part time swim coach under the Gogetter Triathlon Squad. Normally our coaching class starts from late evening until night, so I will train two sessions per day (morning and afternoon before I start my coaching session)
6. Can you list down 5 Fun Facts about yourself?
i. Learnt how to swim via YouTube 3 months before 2016 IRONMAN Malaysia (my first ever triathlon race).
ii. Never been overseas before. My upcoming race in Kona is my first overseas trip!
iii. Never travelled alone before
iv. I have big appetite!
v. Mommy’s Boy
7. What is your favourite discipline and why?
Answer: My favourite discipline is running, because I can always enjoy the beautiful and different while I am running.
8. List down your achievements as an athlete: (You may add on more)
I. Qualified for IRONMAN World Championship 2018 within 2 years of my triathlon journey.
II. 2016 IRONMAN MALAYSIA BEST LANGKAWIAN
III. 2017 IRONMAN MALAYSIA 3rd Place in my age group (18-24 years old) and BEST LANGKAWIAN
IV. 2nd Place in my age group (18-24 years old) for 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 BINTAN
9. Can you share with us your nutrition plan when doing triathlon?
Answer: For IRONMAN distance, I will eat breakfast (2 pieces of bread and hot drinks) 2-2:30 hours before race. For Bike Leg, I will have 1 Hammer Gel every 45 minutes, 1 Hammer Bar and 2 bottles of ultra-endurance drinks (Hammer Perpetuem mix with Hammer Endurolytes Extreme powder). For Run Leg, I will take 1 Hammer gel every 30 minutes. For post-race, I will make sure to have my usual recovery drinks which is the Hammer Whey protein.
10. What is your advice to people who wants to try triathlon?
11. You are the first Langkawian to qualify for IRONMAN Kona in Hawaii. How do you feel about that?
Answer: I feel very grateful and lucky to have strong support from LADA’s (Langkawi Development & Authority) and LANGKAWIAN friends in my journey to IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii this 13th October 2018. I’m proud to represent Langkawi and Malaysia in my BIGGEST DREAM race ever. I will try my very best to finish strong in one of the toughest race in the world and make Langkawi and Malaysia proud!
PART 3 : Q&A with MOHD AMRAN ABDUL GHANI, THE BRAVE AND COURAGEOUS FIREFIGHTER WHO NEVER GIVES UP
Mohd Amran Abdul Ghani, a full-time firefighter and Best Malaysian Male for Ironman Langkawi in 2014 and 2016. Mohd Amran was born in Bachok, Kelantan and has been serving in the Fire Department since 2001.
Without further ado, here is the Q&A with Mohd Amran!
Full name : Mohd Amran Abdul Ghani
Place of Birth : Kg Tok Burung, Bachok, Kelantan
Date of Birth : 30 March 1980
Occupation : Fireman
1. When did your passion for triathlon begun?
Answer: I was a runner previously but it didn’t give me the satisfaction and mental and physical strength that I was looking for. That’s when I decided to join triathlon as triathlon gives me the adrenaline feeling that I was looking for.
2. What is your first triathlon event?
Answer: My first triathlon is IRONMAN Malaysia in 2004.
3. How does your career as a fireman helps in preparing yourself for Ironman?
Answer: My status as a full-time fireman is not an obstacle for me. I am very lucky that that the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia, especially my department is very supportive and always cheering for me whenever I compete in any triathlon event especially an event like Ironman.
4. What is your greatest strength?
Answer: There are three (3) disciplines in triathlon; swimming, cycling and running. All 3 disciplines require balance combination. I would say my greatest strength is within cycling and running.
5. How do you handle stress and pressure?
Answer: The stress and pressure are really high in triathlon especially when you have won the IRONMAN Malaysia Best Malaysian category 2 years in a row. Everyone from your family to your office and sponsors are counting for you to deliver your best at all times. That’s why I believe the best way to deal with the stress and pressure is making sure that I get plenty of rest and eat a balanced and healthy diet in order to help me recover from the vigorous training.
6. What is/ is your greatest accomplishment as an athlete?
Answer: I was crowned as the IRONMAN Malaysia Best Malaysian in 2014 and 2016, IRONMAN Putrajaya 70.3 Best Malaysian in 2014 and 6-time Sportsman for Sukan Bomba Malaysia and qualified to compete and represent Malaysia at The World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) in 2007.
7. What excites you the most about your career as an athlete?
Answer: Besides the satisfaction that I get from competing in the triathlon, I get to meet and make friends with people from different background. I can also make friend with people from the international level.
8. What is the biggest challenge in participating in Ironman?
Answer: For me, the biggest challenge is to be mentally and physically prepared as well as strengthening my inner strength, especially during the long hours. I hope that everything goes well during the championship.
9. Who/what inspires you the most in participating in a triathlon?
Answer: Of course, my main inspiration is my beloved family. They have always been there for me since I first started triathlon. They are my motivation in giving me the drive to do my best in every triathlon that I have participated. I am very thankful for my family especially to my wife who understands my passion as an athlete.
10. What is your advice to people who wants to try triathlon?
Answer: Triathlon is a sporting event that combines 3 discipline; swim, run and bike. For those who wants to try triathlon, I would suggest that you start with IRONMAN 70.3 first. Then, once you’ve accustomed to the distances, you can start doing the full IRONMAN.
PART 4 : TWO POWERHOUSES GO HEAD-TO-HEAD FOR BEST MALAYSIAN TITLE AT 2018 IRONMAN MALAYSIA
Petaling Jaya, 17 October 2018 – 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.
That means approximately 720 local participants will bid to make an impact this year, a significant rise from the 600 who competed at last year’s edition.
So how has the sport grown so exponentially in the country?
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.