The Recipe for the Adventure Sports Super Team
By Nina Syahira
January 5, 2015
“We’re like adrenaline junkies; we want the challenges that adventure races have.”
Drawn by a common passion in adventure sports, Yeo Kim Hong and Hairul Nazwa have competed as a team in various competitions for many years including AVventura 2014, from which they emerged as champions in the Men’s Ultra category. Despite their fervour of the sport, their participation has never been strictly about winning. In fact, they take pride in mere experiences that no doubt have shaped their lifestyles and have fun at the same time. Furthermore, their joy lies in the thriving community spirit together with other adventure sports enthusiasts.
As someone who has always been into this type of sport since young, Hairul first began dabbling in mountain biking and rock climbing before actively competing in 2000. His love for adventure sports naturally instils in him a kind of discipline you see in seasoned athletes. His time in National Service only added to it.
“I was in the service for almost 14 years. It has taught me to go beyond my limits,” Hairul explains, beaming as he recalls those days.
Kim Hong is also quick to agree, citing NS training for helping him achieve the fundamentals he needed in life and in sports.
“Overcoming difficulty and challenges during the adventure race is key. I would say the training has all been passed down from NS to where we are today.”
But for Kim Hong, this compulsory rite of passage for all Singaporean men also offered him the opportunity to take part in an adventure race. This then became a turning point in life for him.
“My first adventure race was in the army. They brought us from the mainland to Tekong to Ubin and back to my camp again. Before NS, I was just a runner. I enjoyed the experience so it got me hooked on multi sports competitions,” he continues.
Individually, they have grown to become strong and competent athletes. Last year alone, Hairul has travelled almost every month to Malaysia and Timor Leste to race while Kim Hong traversed the region and even crossed over to France for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Together, they have a combined 27 years of experience in competitive adventure sports. Sounds like the perfect formula for an unbeatable team, doesn’t it?
Perhaps it’s due to experience that these two possess the essential knowledge of working together as a super team. As one of the challenges during SAFRA AVventura is kayaking and it is undoubtedly a huge test in team work.
“What’s important is coordination and balance of power. Each person needs to put in the effort especially in paddling,” Hairul says.
Obviously, there needs to be trust between partners as well. That’s pretty much a given since no one would actually agree to team up with another person if they’re not confident they can work with them, right? There needs to be something more than just that first green light to sign up together at all.
“During kayaking, you also need to talk to each other. If the distance is long and you don’t talk, it can get boring. You might fall asleep so good luck!” Kim Hong laughs.
Communication can be said to be the deciding factor in team sports success so it’s no wonder that it’s just as important here. But what happens when there’s a conflict of opinions? Surely with two veterans, there may be plenty of arguments during a race about strategy, technique or anything that could spark tension especially if there are added pressures like time limits.
Without missing a beat, Kim Hong clarifies that when it comes to adventure races like the SAFRA AVventura, there needs to be only one person who makes the decisions.
“If the person is talking, just listen and do. Don’t go and argue. I’ve seen teams who argue with each other. That can waste a lot of time. It can be either one of you who passes down the instructions so just follow one person.”
Essentially, racing needs to be enjoyable and all the hard work during training will eventually pay off. Back in 2002, they took part in Southern Traverse race in 2002 in New Zealand but before the race, they went to try out the kayak first and neither expected what happened next.
Kim Hong nods with a smile, clearly treasuring that memorable trip. “While we were kayaking, we see dolphins just jumping along beside us! That’s the first time I see a dolphin up close like that. I told my kids about it when I got back.”
“When I saw the big ones, I was like, is this a shark?” Hairul chimes in.
“It was a good experience.”
Hearing the excitement in their voices, we have learnt one important lesson, training hard truly isn’t just for a victory in the race, it’s for wonderful moments like this.