FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5 WOMEN SHARE THEIR SUCCESS STORIES AS WOMEN FOR TRI TAKES ON A SIGNIFICANT MEANING AT IRONMAN MALAYSIA
KUALA LUMPUR/ LANGKAWI
(21 OCTOBER 2019):
Women For Tri has become one of the most
successful and profound programme of the IRONMAN Foundation, since taking off in 2015.
Aimed to increase female participation at all levels of Triathlon, the initiative engages female athletes across all race distances and every athlete ability.
The initiative has become nothing short of amazing, as Women For Tri can be proud of an 18% growth in female participation at the IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events, which now totals to more than 71,000 female triathletes globally.
“IRONMAN has been championing Women For Tri for many years. We believe that it is an inclusive sport, rather than it being male dominant. Having more women in the sport would truly represent the meaning of ‘Ohana’, IRONMAN’s theme this year, and bring the family together,” said CG Lim, Regional Director, Malaysia, IRONMAN Asia.
CG’s biggest mission this year was to show greater support for female athletes through the combined efforts of Women For Tri and the ‘Ohana’ theme.
His endeavours did not disappoint, and has certainly come to fruition as the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi received an additional 25 slots for the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, as part of Women for Tri.
These slots would however, not mean anything without the real-life tales of many Malaysian women whose sacrifice, diligence and sheer determination have helped raise the profile of women in IRONMAN.
Iron Lady is the word for Nursya’s family.
Nursya Jusoh will be an unmistakable figure at this year’s race, sporting a full length trisuit, completed with a sports hijab, thanks to her sponsor PURPOSE.
The seasoned IRONMAN campaigner is and has been an inspiration to many Muslim women as she competes in IRONMAN dressed religious attire.
But above it all, Nursya remains a true inspiration to her family.
“I have three kids, and my second son has completed the kids triathlon twice, because of me!” says the 42-year-old housewife with a laugh.
“My husband also did IRONMAN last year because of me. He is my number one fan!”
Nursya, who will be competing in her fourth consecutive IRONMAN, has come full circle since witnessing her first IRONMAN as a spectator in 2014.
“I was so inspired by the spirit of the participants and went back with a desire to do this. I enrolled in swimming lessons, and my husband bought me a bike shortly after. I did my first triathlon in 2015 and signed up for my first IRONMAN in 2016.
“That year itself I signed up for my full IRONMAN in Langkawi, and I be returning there for a fourth time.”
Bonding with women through triathlon
For Patricia Lim, completing the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi relay team event with her girlfriends
Diana Hazari and Harum Delima would be to achieve their ultimate friendship goals.
“We have all done the full IRONMAN in Langkawi before and we are familiar with the routes, so this time we just want to go out there and have fun. I want all of us to finish the event with a big smile,” says the bubbly café owner who will be toeing the swim start for the first leg of their relay.
Patricia is grateful that she met both Diana and Harum through this small, yet closely knitted community of female triathletes.
“We met over four years ago, and we have bonded really well ever since. We do not train together because we do different events, but even having a meal together brings us closer.”
“I did my first relay in Port Dickson in 2015 and was inspired by many of the women out there. I now look at the older generation and draw my inspiration from them. Some of them are in their 60s, but they can complete a full IRONMAN in 12 hours. Amazing.”
Striving even harder after accident
Diana Hazari could have allowed a bike accident that happened during her IRONMAN training to deter her from ever touching a bicycle again, let alone competing in another race. Instead, she used that setback as an added motivation to achieve her goal.
“I was training for my first IRONMAN in 2016 but had unfortunately suffered a bike accident during training just weeks before race day. I still participated in the event, but with stitches and a blurry eyesight. I could not perform and did not finish the race,” recalled the housewife.
“I was heartbroken but became more determined to complete a race, so I signed up the following year looking for ‘revenge’. I worked extra hard and was more careful during training. It paid off and I finished my first race in 2017 and become an IRONMAN.”
“It was one of the best moments of my life.”
This year, Diana will compete in the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi relay category, doing the bike lap with memories of 2016 spurring her on to power her team.
Doctor misdiagnosis turns out a revelation
For Patricia and Diana’s teammate, Harum Delima, every IRONMAN race was an amazing lesson in self-discovery, which saw her overcoming obesity.
On her journey to leading a healthier lifestyle and losing weight, she fell in love with running. However, the real estate agent was heartbroken after a misdiagnosis by a doctor on her knee condition. That paved her way into the IRONMAN world.
“I consulted a doctor I had never met before and he said my legs were bad for running based on my X-Ray. I cried for days because I had fell in love with running. I consulted other specialists after that and they said my legs were fine,” recalled Harum.
“I went home with renewed spirits and told my husband I was going to join a triathlon. He wasn’t interested, but the fire in me was so intense, I knew I was going to do it with or without him. He saw my passion and learnt to swim with me. After swimming 1000m non-stop, we were motivated and shopped for a bike.”
Harum’s IRONMAN adventure has taken her to Estonia, Italy and Norway, but she always remembers her IRONMAN Malaysia experience.
“I DNF (Did Not Finish) and told myself I wasn’t going to do another one. But if I had stopped, I would not have achieved all this. Don’t succumb to pressure, move at your own pace.”
Harum will be taking on the last leg of the relay for 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi which consists of the 21.1km run.
Inspiration from the female Peninsular peddler
For Amelia Shelton, the demanding work as a dentist was draining both physically and mentally, leaving her little room for any outdoor activity.
“I was posted to Langkawi as a junior dental officer in 2014, and it was hard being motivated because of my job. Plus, most of my friends would rather chill at home or at the beach on their off days,’ said the Selangor-born. But a local event in Langkawi in 2017 changed that, because that’s when she came to know a certain Sandra Loh, who accomplished a unique feat of cycling across the four corners of the Malaysian Peninsular with a friend in 2009.
Sandra, a speaker at that event, came over to encourage Amelia afterwards.
“The first thing she said was to come cycle with her. She even offered to lend me her bike when I told her I didn’t have one.
We cycled across some gorgeous views that weekend and that was the start.
“I saved up and bought my first road bike after and started taking part in any events that involved cycling, swimming or running. All because of Sandra’s motivation.”
Amelia will be competing in her first IRONMAN at Langkawi this year, inspired by her mentor, family, friends and the locals.
“The locals here (in Langkawi) even have songs about IRONMAN! It is one of the biggest events here. People would just stand by the roads and cheer the athletes on. I always thought it was pretty cool, and now, I will be part of it.
T-2 DAYS TO RACE DAY: WOMEN FOR TRI PANEL AIMSTO EMPOWER & INSPIRE
Three-Time World Champion Craig Alexander, 2019 ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Champion Javier Gomez & Popular Malaysian Personality Alif Satar adds gloss to IRONMAN as countdown to race day heats up
LANGKAWI, 24 October 2019: The excitement for the 2019 IRONMAN Malaysia in Langkawi continues to heat up as a plethora of activities are already happening to serve as the ideal appetizer ahead of race day in two days!
Women For Tri Aims to Foster Closer Bond
There was great camaraderie and insights breakthrough at the Women For Tri panel discussion on Thursday.
The panel speakers made up of Katie Kyme, Amelia Shelton, Nur Zarina, Christine Loh and Cheryl Tay all recounted their own personal experiences, and what stood out was how IRONMAN helped them overcome adversity.
Australian Pro Athlete Katie Kyme has been an ardent IRONMAN supporter since her teens, when she would watch the IRONMAN World Championships with her brother.
Severe health conditions several years ago never diminished her love for triathlon, and she was at IRONMAN Malaysia to share her story.
“I was diagnosed with brain cancer some years ago, and I was fortunate to have overcome it, but recovery took 10 years, so I had to be patient in that process. Once my health got better, I could start with blocks of trainings,” said Kyme, who eventually went on to get her professional card.
Residing in Langkawi for the last 5 years, Dr. Amelia Shelton’s biggest barrier was getting motivated from a taxing job as a dentist which took up a lot of her time.
The turning point came when she learnt that medical practitioners where she resides are most prone to non-communicable diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.
“I needed to practice what I preach and make the time to get out there. Langkawi is a beautiful island, and so it wasn’t like I was out there doing a chore. I wanted to see the sun, smell the salty sea air and just be out there,” said Amelia.
“Having an indoor trainer also helped a lot. I’d cycle before going to work, and then run after work. My colleagues saw my determination and offered to do the weekend on-calls for me, so that I could train longer hours.”
Amelia also had a word of advice for women who are going through their menstrual cycles while training.
“Give your body at least a day’s rest, because hormones can fluctuate. You need to know your body well, but don’t take a long break.”
Christine Loh has become an ‘iron-woman’ to her family, from supporting her IRONMAN-fanatic husband to joining him on this journey and competing at the 2019 IRONMAN Malaysia for the first time with her children.
“When we have a bigger objective in mind, we can pull the trigger. I started by following my husband, and after that my kids were inspired and also started following. There were sacrifices to be made, but I am happy that I went through with it” said Christine.
Training and competing in full hijab gear can be challenging, especially in a tropical climate like Malaysia, where the heat can be intense and other competitors are dressed more freely.
But for hijabi triathlete Nur Zarina, pushing her physical limits in an attire which conforms to religion, and giving her best is a different experience altogether.
“It’s not a problem at all. I compete with a sports scarf with thin material, and it dries fast,” said Nur Zarina, who also shared about overcoming her fear of swimming.
When I was younger, my mom always told me not to swim as I would drown. And when I started swimming, I used to do it with my eyes shut because of the fear of piranhas and sharks!”
“A lot of people had also discouraged me, but I set my mind to do it and now I’m here competing at an IRONMAN (event).”
Singaporean Cheryl Tay had battled with body image insecurity when she was younger, in an attempt to be skinny.
“I used to run almost 27 kilometres a day to get skinny. When I failed to stick my diet, I self-harmed. Then I realized I am only hurting myself, and I started to discover what my body can do,” recalls Rock the Naked Truth Founder.
“I got introduced to weightlifting, and after that triathlon. It was one of the best things that happened to me.”
Also present at the panel was Elle Adda – the French Filipina international concert vocalist who has worked alongside Grammy award winning artists such as Sting and Chris Botti.
The Disney music vocalist, who is a fitness enthusiast with several IRONMAN podium finishes serenaded the crowd with a song titled ”Being Alive” to inspire them ahead of race day
Since its inception in 2015, Women For Tri has seen an 18% increase in female participation in IRONMAN & IRONMAN 70.3 events, which now totals to more than 71,000 female athletes globally.
“Let’s endure the pain and agony together” – Alif Satar
Alif Satar will compete in the full IRONMAN this year after completing his maiden IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi last year under seven hours, a feat which proved to be a life changing experience.
That accomplishment also saw his swim in open water for the first time, as the popular singer and actor encouraged the participants ahead of Saturday’s race.
“I want to wish all the IRONMAN participants their best on Saturday. May we endure the pain and agony together!”.
Other renown Malaysian personalities participating in this year’s acclaimed event include Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Group CEO of CIMB, who will be racing the IRONMAN 70.3 event; multiple IRONMAN finisher Dato’ Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali, CEO of Sepang International Circuit taking it easy with an IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi this year, as well as former Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who will take part in his first IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi event, after a hiatus of 3 years since his maiden IRONMAN 70.3 Putrajaya in 2016.
Valuable Tips from a World Champion – Alexander Craig
The triathletes who converged at Langkawi gained a massive boost following a valuable meet-and-greet session with three-time world champion Craig Alexander, who has been and will be one of the commentator for IRONMAN Malaysia throughout the week.
The Australian, who is also IRONMAN’s ambassador in Langkawi is now contributing back to the sport after becoming three-time world champion in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Alexander, 46, spent time taking pictures with fans ahead of the gruelling race day, and had shared valuable advice during the meet-and-greet session.
“It is great to receive recognition in a sport we all like to excel in. So it doesn’t matter if you have been in the sport a year or two or 10, the challenge is to keep going,” said Alexander.
Javier Gomez preparing for Tokyo Olympics in Langkawi
IRONMAN Malaysia 2019 also witnessed another world champion in the form of Javier Gomez.
The 36-year-old Spaniard is a long distance specialist and king of triathlon at the 2019 ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in May.
He is looking forward to the Langkawi race, which he described as ‘not the fastest, but one of the toughest.’
“I’ve heard about how challenging this race can be in hot and humid conditions. I’m competing at the Tokyo Olympics next year, and the conditions here will provide a good learning experience,” said Gomez, who already likes the island.
“I like the course; the atmosphere is great and the locals are friendly. I’m hoping for a great race on Saturday.”
IRONMAN Malaysia and IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi will continue with its race week festivities, with IRONKIDS kicking things off on Friday.