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Wan's Column - Chin Woo Biathlon '07 - A Nostalgic Event with Clara

Brief History of Chin Woo
Many of you may not be familiar with the name Chin Woo, it sounds rather Chinese. Chin Woo means "Excel in Martial Art". The founder of Chin Woo Athletic Association is Hou Yuanjia who together with a few others founded the school in Shanghai on July 7, 1910. Hou is a legendary Chinese martial artist who challenged foreign fighters in highly publicized events, restoring pride and nationalism to China at a time when Western Imperialism and Japanese manipulation were eroding the country. After his death, the movement expanded and today there is a string of martial art schools across the several countries with Chinese communities.

His belief is that martial art should not have differentiation in schools or clans but should be universal with the objective of strengthening the body. You could read about this great association in the World Chin Woo Federation web site, the official source to World Chin Woo organizations.

If you are from my era, you would recall the 1972 movie, "Fist of Fury" starring the late Bruce Lee. In that movie, Bruce Lee played the role of Hou Yuanjia's fictional student, Chen Jen. If you are much younger, you would recall the 2006 movie, "Fearless" starring Jet Li. In this movie, Jet Li played Hou Yuanjia himself. However, the plot of this show differs greatly from the actual life of Hou Yuanjia to the extent that Hou's descendants came out to file injunction against the movie.

Of Memories and Courtship at Chin Woo
Chin Woo Stadium has been around for many years in Kuala Lumpur. As I grew up within one km from Chin Woo Stadium in Jalan Hang Jebat, I spent my childhood days loitering around the vicinity. It was in 1981 when I was working with an accounting firm, Coopers and Lybrand that I join Chin Woo as a life member. That year our Inter-Office Games was in Penang. Our Penang Office included swimming as one of the events and I was tasked with forming the Kuala Lumpur Office swimming team. As Chin Woo Stadium was very centralized, I got the team to train in Chin Woo during the evenings. After several training session, our team went to Penang for the competition and we were soundly beaten by the Penang team led by our boss from Penang, Mr. Ong Eng Kooi, a former Malaysian swimmer. Ong is the father of Katerina Ong and Jeffrey Ong, both became national swimmers later. In 1981, Jeffrey Ong was just a little boy cheering his father on as he out-swam his opponents, 20 years younger than him.

Included in Coopers and Lybrand Kuala Lumpur swimming team was a twenty year old young lady by the name of Clara Bong. After the swimming competition, I asked Clara if she is still keen to swim and we continue to swim every Saturday evening at Chin Woo Stadium. At this juncture of the story, you should hum a lovely theme song from one of those romantic movies; a Teresa Teng song would be fine. The Hakka Restaurant used to operate at Chin Woo Stadium, served good Hakka food and excellent steamboats. It was our favorite restaurant during our courting days. Fate has it that I married Clara in 1987 and since then we did not go back to Chin Woo Stadium as we have moved to Subang Jaya. We continue to swim each week at Lake View Club and later Holiday Villa in Subang Jaya. Nowadays, we swim each Friday evening at Holiday Villa and we have our second daughter, Rachel (age 18) as company, aka lamp-post.

Chin Woo Biathlon
I took part in the 2004 and 2006 event. On both occasions, I asked Clara to join me but she did not as she is not very keen in competing. When the 2007 event was a month away, I asked again and this time she agreed to take part. In November 2007, she got onto the rostrum for the first time during the KRI 12km in Ipoh, 8th placing in 1:11:59. In the last one year she has improved on her running as she was playing active netball for 3 teams, Subang Jaya Medical Center, Sime Darby and her Church team. As 46, she is still the top shooter in her team and very consistent. She runs about 3 evenings a week at Subang Ria, after work to build on her stamina. She plays netball on Saturday and Sunday evening at MPSJ Stadium. In December 2007, she ran her best 10km run with a time of 1:03:12 at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.

I knew she does not need any special training for the biathlon, 800m swim and 7km run. The Chin Woo Biathlon is an entry level event for multi-sports. It is meant to give participants a feel of how it is like to do 2 sports in the same morning. This is where being an all-rounder helps; can swim and run reasonably well. That morning on 16 December 2007, we arrived at Chin Woo Stadium at 7.00am and the first impression Clara got was; "the place has not changed at all" As the number of participants is restricted to 100, we got our bibs and T-shirts very quickly. We got down to the pool area and look at the list and saw Carmen Leong's name on the women veteran category. I told Clara that she could only hope to get second in the field of 8. Carmen Leong is a seasoned tri-athlete and she just completed her first Ironman in Perth with a time of 12.5 hours, one of the best time achieved by a Malaysian women. Clara was drawn together with Foo Sook Ying, treasurer of PACM in the same swim lane. Jason Thiang, PACM Captain and husband of Sook Ying was in the same category with me. As Jason needs to look after his son, Edwin who was competing in the Boys Under 12, I saw to the needs of both Clara and Sook Ying. Clara started off too fast and struggled at the first few laps before she got her breathing right. Upon completing her 16 laps, her change over was quick as she took little time to put on her running shoes. After she ran off, the lanes of the men veterans were announced. Jason and I got to our lanes and we prepared for our swim.

I knew my swim will be among the slowest as I did breast stroke, my preferred stroke all the way. My changeover was also very slow as I am not used to slipping into the shoes, I need to tie my shoe laces properly. However, this year I feel stronger during the run. I knew I was in good run shape after completing my 21km in the Singapore Marathon in 2:02:50, my best recoded time in my 5 consecutive years running in Singapore since 2003. The 7km run would take us from Chin Woo Stadium, go round the Merdeka Stadium to Jalan Maharajalela, then onto Jalan Hang Tuah fronting Victoria Institution and SMJK Jalan Hang Tuah, both were my Alma Mater for my secondary and primary education respectively. We then turned into Jalan Hang Jebat where Stadium Negara is situated and repeat the loop 2 more times before running up the hill to Chin Woo Stadium. Clara was there to welcome me at the finish and she told me she got second. Edwin Tiang came in second too, Jason Thiang 3rd and Sook Ying third in their respective category.

Clara powering to a 2nd placed finish

A personal best effort for Wan

I did not get onto the rostrum but improved on my overall time, 1:01:14 (20:56 swim and 40:18 run) as compared 1:04:3 in 2006 (21:44 swim and 42:19 run )

PACM Winners
At least 8 PACM members that I knew got onto the rostrum of 24 top 3 placing. I could have missed some names as I do not know them all. They were;

Category Placing Name Swim Run Total
Boys U12 2nd Edwin Thiang 5:46 8:09 13:49
Men 19-29 1st Barry Lee 11:51 28:57 40:48
Men 30-44 1st Iwata Takatoshi 13:29 27:33 41:02
Women > 36 1st Carmen Leong 15:44 36:38 52:22
2nd Clara Bong 19:44 44:52 1:04:36
3rd Foo Sook Ying 22:47 48:22 1:11:09
Men > 45 1st Lee Woon Kow 14:55 32:55 47:50
3rd Jason Thiang 17:45 34:16 52:01

Note : For the boys under 12, the swim is 300m and run is 2km. As for the adults, the swim is 800m and run is 7km.

Looking Ahead
I believe this event could be a little larger, up to 150 participants as it would mean we have 4 waves instead of the current 3. Usually, the problem would come when we have an extremely slow swimmer hogging the pool and would delay the start of the next wave. There should be a cut off time to finish the swim to eliminate the extremely slow swimmers to enable the next wave to start, otherwise this event could not increase its capacity. In triathlons or Ironman events, such a practice is normal. I look forward to the 2008 event, perhaps I could convince my daughter, Rachel to take part. I also need to thank at least 5 PACM members who were part of the Organizing Committee or as volunteers. They are Don Khor, Lester Thum, Siew Chee Ming, Jenny Lim and Nancy Lai.


Wan Yew Leong
25 February 2008


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