Exclusive Interview: Triathlon dream comes true for Barry Lee at Ironman Kona, Hawaii
It takes a village to raise a child, and more so, for a community to send a Triathlete to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. The world renowned Ironman Kona is deemed to be the world’s toughest Ironman race, with our home race Ironman Malaysia coming in a close second.
Malaysia’s homegrown Ironman, Barry Lee Chun Sing stands at 25 years of age, but has already qualified for the world’s toughest triathlon twice. This time around, team TIME and the triathlon community raised funds amounting to RM15030 to send Barry on the ‘Triathlon Dream of his life’.
Malaysia’s sole representative, Barry will be swimming 3.8km in the North Pacific Ocean which is quite a mean feat, followed by cycling 180km on an undulating course around Hawaii known for it’s strong winds. His dream will have the most jubilant ending after running 42km to the finish line.
On behalf of Tough Asia, I caught up with Barry for an insight on his preparations before he left for Hawaii.
TA: A childhood dream coming true for you, Barry. Do you feel excited?
Barry: I will try to calm down a little bit. That’s what I usually do, I wont get too excited till after the race.
When I started racing Triathlon, I found out about this world renowned race that everyone was talking about Ironman Kona, and I made it my aim to qualify someday.
TA: How have you been training for Ironman Kona?
Barry: On the contrary, after 2015 Ironman Malaysia in Langkawi, I toned down my training and just maintained my fitness level throughout 2016, as I felt that my body was feeling tired from all the back-to-back races. I only resumed training in August and September, but I feel that my performance is improving and my body has recovered with the self-imposed rest period.
I was a bit depressed in the last few months, but now that I think about it, the rest was a good thing as it allowed my body to recover.
I’ve also been following the training program given to me by Triathlon Coach, Steve Lumley in the last two months.
TA: How will you approach Kona?
Barry: It’s a totally different course, it’s famous for the strong winds although weather is almost the same. The swim is a deep water start but we don’t need a wet suit, there doesn’t seem to be big hills on the bike course and the run is flat. There’ll be a lot more spectators cheering and the scenery will be amazing.
Now, I’ll be adding some speed to my pace as I’ve done the long-distance training already and adapt to some race effort. This year, I’ll have a big advantage with new technology on my bike, gear, right down to my shoes.
I’ll be riding an aerodynamic Time Trial bike – Cervelo P3 sponsored by Cervelo Malaysia paired with high profile Enve wheels from Cycle Studios which has more stiffness. Kask has also come in with an aerodynamic helmet and Rudy Project has graciously given me shades, and Lintaman with cycling shoes. On the run, I’ll be using Brooks’ Launch shoes which are suitable for full marathons, providing a bit more comfort and spring to propel me forward.
TA: Nutrition wise, what are you packing for the race?
Barry: I have Hammer gels, electrolyte drinks for the bike course and hopefully get some salt sticks on the run.
TA: What are you looking forward to do after the race?
Barry: True to my love for motorsports, I’m hoping to find go-kart arenas to scratch my itch, after scoping out the touristy sites. I also hope to do sky diving, we’ll see if the opportunity arises.
TA: How are your teammates taking your go at Kona? Are they competing with you during training?
Barry: The young ones are always beating me in training, especially when I’m too tired. My teammates are very supportive, including friends outside the team like Wilson and Aldrian.
TA: What’s your mantra for this Ironman Kona race?
Barry: Keep a good steady effort, don’t over push, finish the race and enjoy the food after that. This kept me going during Ironman Malaysia last year.
We also spoke to Barry’s dad who ignited the triathlon spark within Barry, and who runs Ironman races himself.
Barry’s Dad: The most important thing I’ve thought Barry, is that there’s one word in his dictionary that he shouldn’t have which is ‘DNF’.
Barry: My dad is truly different from the next person, as he’s overly positive and optimistic. He’s also very strong mentally and he’s always been telling me, ‘DNF is not a solution’. I try to learn my lessons, and avoid doing the wrong things and take the appropriate risk.
Lini Kazim – a strong, renowned triathlete in her own right, is currently coaching Team TIME with Steve Lumley’s departure from Malaysia recently.
TA: What’s your one piece of advise for Barry at Ironman Kona?
Lini: I want it to be memorable for him, so I told him that he’s done all the hard work, and to just go out and enjoy himself on the race. He already knows deep down what he wants to achieve in Hawaii and he’ll set out to do it.
TA: What’s the aspiration for Team TIME?
Lini: We hope that 4 of our senior athletes will qualify for SEA Games in KL next year, and the juniors will be doing Sprint distance next year. It’s going to be exciting times, and it will give them a focus in their training programs.
To follow Barry Lee’s race at Ironman Kona this Saturday, 8th Oct, use the enhanced Athlete Tracker tool on Ironman.com which includes multiple time splits for the bike and run. His race number is 2205. Cheer him on!
To view more photos, visit Tough Asia’s Facebook album here. Photos were taken using Casio Exilim FR100 by myself for ToughAsia unless stated otherwise.
This article was first published on ToughAsia here.