This draws the end of Asian Para Games and also the end of 2018 season.
As I take one last look around the village and I find myself smiling to myself.
Despite clocking my career worst 1500m at the biggest event of my career (how ironic can this get), I am leaving the Asian Para Games a happy man.
To begin with, I have not thought it would be possible to be competing at such this Asian Para Games for numerous reasons. One of which was the fact that I was never truly fit for the entire 2018. Although I was cleared to engage in running again in Feb, plantar fasciitis has its way of clinging onto me and I had to reduce my training load for most of these 7 months. I haven’t been running as much as I would like and definitely not as fast as I would like during the easier days.
As a result of reduced training volume and intensity, I found it really hard to lose the extra kgs I have put on during the lay-off period. However, an administrative miscommunication resulted in me participating in the Tunisia Grand Prix instead of Berlin’s. Looking back, it was definitely the turning point of this whole injured-overweight cycle. I met a sports dietician. I have always believed that I had adequate knowledge in this area and I wasn’t willing to “report” to someone else with regards to my daily food intake. I am the diet police, why would I report to someone else?! My oh my, I am so wrong. Not only was my dietician a lovely person, she is a self-confessed magician (because she manage to get me to buy my own fruits, eat my fruits and veg, stop potato chip-ing and control & time my carb intake within 1 week) and most importantly, she was willingly to communicate with an over-seas athlete, after her working hours. I have to credit her for helping me get back to racing weight.
Another reason was that PhD has been stressing me out this year with a series of unfortunate events, which led to sleepless nights, and I have to admit, I got pretty depressed at a point in time. There were times when turning up to training was actually hard because I just haven’t got my head screwed on right.
Injuries and illness have always been part and parcel of an athlete’s life. But I had the worst timing of them of all, suffering from a string of illnesses and injuries leading up to the games. Talk about some crap luck all year round.
Despite the hot and humid weather, training was great for the first couple of days and it just feels like a PB is about to happen. However, things took a turn in the last 5 days prior to the race. Initially, the plantar started to hurt and I conclude it was probably just me wearing spikes. However, I started experiencing sharp pain in the hip and quad whenever I picked up pace. The pain got worse and more frequent as the days got closer to the race. I went to the physios, iced it, rested it but nothing worked. During the warm up on race day, I did some 100m striding and it got so bad that I couldn’t stand. To make matter worse, I was having gastro issues despite being extremely careful with my food intake. I had diarrhea for the past 3 days and I must admit, the toilet has been my most hung out place since. I was feeling weak, I was feeling pain and I had to seriously consider pulling out of the comp. Here I am, 15 minutes before reporting to the call-room, crouching at the finishing line, asking how much more pain can I endure and if it was realistic for me to run 1500m on that. And it is always during such point in time, where no knowledge of mine, no strength of mine could sustain myself, do I feel the presence of God. I limped back to my bag, grab a pain relief spray while my physios were not looking and bathed my leg with mist of cold spray. I then grab a bag of ice, hi-fived my athletics fam and reported for racing. I just couldn’t bring myself to let my team and my country down.
100m into the race and I was dropped. The pain got worse as the run continued. The running form was an absolute disaster and every lap got slower. As the gap got wider, the cheers from team sg remained strong. Thank you
One thing that I didn’t expect was the cheers from the Indonesia public. It was so genuine and it was so encouraging. After I crossed the line, I walked over to thank the home crowd and was received with even more cheers and support. Thank you Indonesia for the welcome, passion and encouragement. I just wish I could have been in better shape to bring you better entertainment and that you could have kept my jersey.
You have brought me more injuries than a car crash could;
You have showed me ways of conquering the mind;
You have given me opportunities to represent the country;
You have brought me to places I never would have traveled to;
You have given me friends whom I will be thankful of and hold dear for the rest of my life;
You have given me experiences that I would never have dreamt of.
I look forward to sharing you with future generations.
prepared and written by Zac Leow
photo credits to SportSG
photo credits to SportSG