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Coaches' Corner: Guo Wei Dong


Three times the man, China’s former top triathlete, Guo Wei Dong has been leading the Singapore Triathlon team for the past three years. (Photo: SSC)


Guo Wei Dong may seem unimposing at first blush but he is three times the average man. After all, he is the chief national coach for the triathlon team. And with a list of achievements as long as the distances he runs, swims, and cycles, the triathlon team has more than a few things they can pick up from Guo.

 

Guo has been involved in triathlons for almost 22 years. He was China’s top triathlete from 1989 to 1994 and achieved top five finishes in competitions held in Japan and Korea. He transitioned to the coaching side in 1993 in Shandong Province, China and came to Singapore shores three years later.

 

So what does it take to cut it in the world of triathlons? A training regimen that demands two to three hours of training six days a week, quite a commitment for a team that does this in their spare time.

 

“It is definitely very tiring,” quips the coach. Guo bemoans the fact that, because of other commitments, most of his team lack the time it takes to give everything they have for the sport.

 

“The majority, or I should say all, of the triathletes here in Singapore are not professional athletes, they are more of recreational triathletes, and so compared to the athletes in China, they lack focus.”

 

But Guo has a plan - a plan that he hopes will take his team to good showing at the upcoming SEA Games and a top six placing at the next Asian games.

 

He selects his team from a pool of swimmers following very strict criteria. “We will pick out around 10 of them based on their physique to see if they are suitable for the different segments of the triathlon: running and cycling,” says the coach. “If they’re out of shape or not fit enough, they’re out.”

 

This stringent set of standards when it comes to choosing who populates his team leaves him with a squad made up of the best triathletes in the country - a team of iron-men, if you will.

 

And that is when he starts to whip them into shape. “We train their swimming first. Then running, maybe starting from a 5km run, then 8km, and subsequently 12, and so on.  Their cycling technique will follow after that.”
 

With all the dedication that he pours into the training, it is easy to see why Guo believes in his team.  “Our kids are not bad,” he admits. “With the right kind of support they can do it.”