Cheng Jing Hean
To prepare for the SEA Games in 2005, Cheng Jing Hean did the unthinkable: he took a year off from school so he could train full time in Yunnan, China. The Philippine Games would mark triathlon’s introduction to the Games, and then 17- year old Jing Hean knew he wanted to do whatever it would take to win at the inaugural meet.
By nature a happy-go-lucky guy, Cheng still was the youngest triathlete to qualify for the National training team when he was only 13 years old. People believed that he had what it took to go the distance. Training in China meant long days of training and long months of separations from his family and friends. However, Cheng was aiming to improve his running time. The former national age group swimmer needed to boost his time in the run—the final, critical leg of the triathlon. He rated cycling as his best leg, with swimming second and running in third.
In 2004, Cheng had done the triathlon in Subic Bay, coming 11th of 40 competitors at the Subic Bay Asian Championships in the Under 23 category. He logged a ‘so-so’ result of 2:07. He was convinced that if he could break 1:59, he stood a chance of winning at the SEA Games. “You get better every time,” he says.
His hard work paid off, and he came in at 1:58:41 and made SEA Games history. Cheng became the first gold medalist in triathlon at the SEA Games. His win in the Philippines earned him the Sportsboy of the Year Award in 2006.