Age no barrier for youngest ‘Rough Ramblers’ in SAFRA AVventura

January 9, 2009

Contributed by Roger Ng and Sarah Carlos

Samuel Yong (left) and Ernest Ong of Victoria School are the youngest racers in the upcoming SAFRA AVventura on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of race organisers)

Ernest Ong and Samuel Yong may both be just 15 years olds, but the Victoria School pair is always up for new adventures.

Despite knowing that the SAFRA AVventura: Rough Ramble will probably be one of the toughest adventure races to be held in Singapore this year, the daring duo took up the challenge and signed up to compete as team ‘GPS’ – Gentlemen, Professional and Sportsmen – inspired by none other than their own school mission.

Little did they know that they would be the youngest team in the race.

Participants of the third edition of SAFRA AVventura to be held on Sunday, January 11th, are in for a tough challenge that will fully test their physical endurance and skills in various disciplines including navigation, trail running and biking, kayaking, sport climbing and various rope elements like abseiling.

Despite being a complete ‘newbie’ to adventure racing, Ernest is game for the challenge and is optimistic that the experience he had gained through other sports activities would help him in the race.

Among his many past wins was a team gold medal in the dragon boat competition held as part of the Singapore River Raft Race last year.

“Dragon-boating does not require steering and control of the boat like kayaking does, but it has helped me to build up my endurance as we have to paddle for long distances during training,” said Ernest.

Samuel on the other hand is no newbie to adventure racing. The adventure sports enthusiast had participated in two previous races organised by his school’s Boy’s Brigade co-curricular activity group where he had to run, cycle, kayak and rock climb over a race route of over 40km.

“I think that I have the experience to be able to complete the coming race,” commented Samuel with his mega-watt smile.

Both boys had also clinched top placing at Victoria School’s cross-country competition held at East Coast Park in early December where competitors had to run a distance of up to 4km. Ernest’s team won the gold medal, while Samuel’s team took the silver.

Nevertheless, the pair is not complacent. To train up their endurance for the upcoming adventure race, they have been running together on a weekly basis.

“The running phase of the race will be very challenging as it covers a distance of 17km,” said Samuel. Ernest too agrees that the 17km run will be the most challenging of all.

This will be the first time that these two best pals will be partnering each other to compete in a race. According to Ernest, his strengths are in running and wall climbing. He trains regularly by practising chin-ups to increase his physical strength for wall climbing. Samuel, on the other hand, is stronger in cycling and kayaking.

“Ernest is better than me in most aspects of the race,” said Samuel. “However, I am afraid that he may not have enough experience in adventure sports.”

Nevertheless, both Ernest and Samuel strongly feel that they have a good understanding of each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and that this would actually help them in the race.

When asked about their strategy for the race, the pair agreed that communication is critical and that they would be extra careful not to make careless mistakes. Equipment must be kept and handled properly and they must remain focused throughout the race.

Reading the race map accurately is also critical to avoid going the wrong way or missing a checkpoint, which would cost racers a lot of time. Samuel recalled a similar experience during one of his past races he had participated organised by Boys’ Brigade.

“The team leader read the map wrongly and we went off course. It was difficult for us to catch up with other opponent teams,” recalled Samuel.

Both the boys are also worried that the lack of stamina and fitness may still be hurdles for them in this race.

Samuel jokingly remarked, “We will need a miracle to win.”

Nonetheless, with the moral support from their families and friends, the two remain positive. “We don’t intend to be the last to finish,” said Ernest, in an optimistic tone, “We will just do our best and have fun during the race.”

From: OldVic in the previous OVA Forum

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Happiness and a positive mindset is what keeps 65-year-old S.S. Nadarajan looking young and healthy.

    Unlike others his age who would rather be laid back, the current chairman of the Braddell Estate Neighbourhoo

    Committee constantly busies himself with a flurry of activities: he is at meetings three to four times a week.

    'It is an absolute must to keep your energy level high. Whenever there are activities and my friends call me, I go,'' the retired senior controller of Senoko Power said.

    The avid sportsman, who was in Victoria School's athletic team, still cycles, jogs and swims regularly.

    Four years ago, he also picked up yoga, which he practices half an hour daily. He said it helps to tone his muscles and improves his flexibility.

    It is this active lifestyle and careful diet which he credits for keeping him looking no older than someone in his early 50s.

    On a typical day, Mr Nadarajan starts his morning with a glass of fruit juice. He then takes four to five small meals throughout the day.

    Olive oil, which is believed to promote heart health and protect against cancer, is used in his home-cooked meals which often consist of vegetables and fish or the breast meat of chicken without its skin.

    Rest is also essential for the father of three sons. He tries to get eight hours of sleep daily.

    He also abstains from vices such as smoking and drinking.

    Said the 2004 merit award recipient of Active Senior Citizen of the Year: 'Health is the greatest gift in order to live life in style.'

    With already so much on his plate, he has recently taken on a new role – grandfather.

    His latest high-energy 'activity' is time spent with his 11-month-old grandson, Ishann, whom he often takes on evening walks and plays football with in their semi-detached home off Braddell Road.

    Madam N. Jametha, his wife of more than 30 years, said: 'With Ishann, he has become even younger and more active. Sometimes he dances with Ishann to try to get him to sleep.'

    This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times on July 30, 2008.

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