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how & why I’m on the team. « Jocelyn Wong's Blog


how & why I’m on the team.

There has been a lot of curiosity as how I got to be on teamTBB, especially on a certain other forum, and I guess people think if they know how I got in, maybe that will help them get in too. of course it’s done on a case-by-case basis, so this is just my own situation. I crafted out a response that turned out to be quite long (I tried to make it short too!) so figured I might as well post it here too.

I’m not on the team because I am fast. I’m on the team to make a difference in the world and at the same time have the opportunity to pursue my potential in the sport. That sounds cheesy, but it’s true. The team motto is “We make life better, two wheels at a time,” and while a lot of the press we get is because my teammates are so darn fast (quadruple ironman win this weekend!!!) the underlying goal of the team is to help improve the life of others via the sport of triathlon.

I’ve never won my AG in an Ironman or even qualified for Kona…unless you count the time I went 5:44 at Half Vineman, taking 9th in my AG, and found out months later that the Kona slot had rolled down to 12th. My fastest Ironman time is a 12:08, which was good enough at the time to win the Collegiate Ironman Championships in Wisconsin but really nothing phenomenal. It’s my 9th season in triathlon and I’m a decent age grouper. I used to flirt with the possibility of going pro more in the younger years, before the reality of money, time, and genetic talent constraints hit me and I went the safe route.

I found a career path I was just as passionate about as triathlon, the field of prosthetics, where I get to help people who have lost their legs regain the abilities that many of us triathletes take for granted. In fact I first learned about prosthetics the summer I was training for my first Ironman. The juxtaposition of me training for Ironman while meeting people who used prosthetic legs to also bike and run made a deep and lasting impression on me. I still find that being involved in both triathlon and prosthetics strongly complement each other.

I got my foot in the door with teamTBB because I am Asian (Chinese by blood, American by birth). About 1.5yrs ago I saw a post in that other forum announcing this new pro team. I knew some of the pro names as women that had won the very Ironmans I’d done. I was intrigued that they were training in Asia (Thailand at the time), and were sponsored by The Bike Boutique, an Asian bike franchise headquartered in Singapore. They wanted to inspire greater triathlon participation in Asian countries via social development programs and even more impressive, it was part of the pros’ jobs to mentor underprivileged Asian youths. None of the pros were Asian though, and they were scouting Asian athletes.

Something told me to contact them. So I did. I said something like “Well, I am Asian-AMERICAN and living in Texas, I am a top age grouper and one of the fastest Asian-American girls on the triathlon circuit…” The running joke with my friends was that I was competing for the unofficial title of Fastest Asian-American Female Triathlete in the World, which really meant in the USA. Which was pretty easy when I was living in Georgia and Texas, I’d be the only Asian girl on the podium but also the only Asian person in most races. But hey, I’ve improved enough in this past year that I was still top Asian girl in all my races the past couple seasons even back in California and at Ironman China. Not that anyone keeps tabs on this. :)

They asked for a race resume and more information about myself, not just as an athlete but as a person. There was a very intense email exchange with Brett (our coach) to determine if I had what it took to be on the team. I didn’t realize that I was being interviewed to become a development member on the squad and train with them full-time. I had been on smaller sponsored teams like Amino Vital which just gave you free product and a uniform to race in and thought hey, maybe I can score a heavily discounted bike or something. Brett said it didn’t matter what my current ability was, which was good because I was sure I wasn’t fast enough.

In the end, it wasn’t even my race results or ethnicity that got me on the team. It was my involvement with prosthetics. Since I became interested in the field at age 20, one part that drew me in was learning about humanitarian work being done in landmine inflicted countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia. There was a program with the International Red Cross, but you had to be 25 years old with 3 years of experience. Turning 25 seemed so far away, but I knew this was something I wanted to do, go to Asia and help people walk again. I was born and raised in the States and had never even been overseas until I did IM China in April, so I thought this would give me a chance to see the world and make a difference. I really wanted to go to Asia as that is where my family is from. 5 years would give me time to actually go to school for prosthetics (2 years at the master’s level) and do my 2 years of residency. I made a proposal to Brett and Alex (our team manager)–let me finish my prosthetic residency first, and then when I am at training camp in Asia, I want to do some prosthetic work there with the local clinics. Social responsibility is a big part of the team mission, so here I am.

I have a dual purpose for being on the team…one is selfish, to try to become the best triathlete I can be, but the other is to use the opportunities I receive from this selfish sport and to help others become active and able again. Right now I am only doing prosthetic work in the Philippines but have goals to also do missions in Vietnam and Cambodia. Even bigger long-term goals include starting up something like a version of the Challenged Athletes Foundation here, doing some how-to clinics for disabled athletes, and recruiting local amputees and training them for the Paralympics.

Funding of course is always a problem, for both the projects I want to do and just for getting myself out here, so my ears are open to anyone with ideas on this. This is why it is also important to became as fast of a triathlete as I can be. Brett and Alex say that the more successful I can get at this sport, the more people I can help.

this can also be considered as step #0 of my series on How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar: get yourself a spot on the best triathlon team in the world. :)

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