Meet Kong Teck Lee, a dedicated outrigger canoe enthusiast whose journey is a testament to the power of determination and passion. As he glides through the serene waters of Sentosa and conquers the challenges of international competitions, Teck Lee's story is an inspiration for all aspiring athletes. In this exclusive interview, he shares his experiences, training regimen, and his unwavering love for the sport that keeps him paddling forward.
Name: Teck Lee Kong
IG Handle: @tecklee.kong
Sport: Outrigger Canoe / Va’a
1. When did you discover that this was your passion and that you were going to pursue it as far as you could?
I saw myself being a happier person whenever I was pushing my limits in trainings and wanted to see how far I could take the sport in Singapore and on the international stage.
2. Who/what inspired you?
Within the first year of taking up outrigger canoeing, I was able to start challenging the top guys in Singapore who had been paddling far longer than me. That really gave me confidence and inspired me to dedicate more time and effort into honing my skills in this sport.
3. Have you participated in any major competition/events?
Some of the major events I’ve participated in include the World Sprints Championships, World Distance Championships, Shaw & Partners The Doctor, and Sydney Harbour Challenge.
4. In your opinion, what was your best performance?
Definitely when I placed Top 10 in the Open Men V1 category at the International Va’a Federation World Distance Championships 2023.
5. What’s your training like when training for a competition?
I train full-time currently out of my own pocket so my training schedule does not fluctuate much. In a week, I usually clock 8-12 sessions on the water, 4 sessions on weights/strength, and I make a point to do at least 2 sessions of other sports weekly (Beach Volleyball, Table Tennis, Badminton).
6. Do you maintain a special diet? If so, what do you eat? Are there cheat days?
I wouldn’t say I have a special diet. I’m a really big eater so I try to eat as healthy as I can. I cook most dinners to control what I put in my body - lots of lentils, chickpeas, chicken, rice, and pasta. What I eat typically depends on how heavy training will be the next day, so I adjust the quantity and nutritional composition accordingly. To be honest, I don’t like the idea of cheat days. My relationship with food is based on balance and moderation, so I do have a fat slice of chocolate cake when I’m being offered one or a laksa when my friends suggest having a meal together. I do try to avoid added sugar and fried foods whenever possible though.
7. When not training for a competition, what’s your training like? Do you cross train? What does a typical week look like?
During my off season, I focus more on general physical strength and endurance. I do like to take time off paddling once in a while to reset, rethink, and regain the desire to paddle again. I am trying to include more runs and swims during my off season and dabbling into Crossfit now to improve my overall aerobic capacity and strength endurance. A week can include just 4-5 light paddling sessions, 5-8 sessions of other sports, and plenty of stretching and mobility work.
8. Do you see yourself as an inspirational role model for aspiring athletes?
I myself am still working on my sporting goals and am far from reaching them. In terms of results, I am hungry for more, and I do hope other athletes are as well. I take inspiration from a lot of my teammates, so I think we all inspire and motivate each other to become better versions of ourselves.
9. Where are your favorite training spots?
Sentosa has been my training base since I first started, so there is a special place in my heart. Out of all the other places I have paddled and trained in, I would have to say Perth has some of the most exciting and picturesque waters, even if sharks are present.
10. If there are readers who would like to get started in your sport, what advice do you have?
Always respect the sea and the canoe! Respect the sea because the playground is shared by everyone. Take care of the canoe because it will take care of you when you need it.
11. Have you always been fit and fab? Was there a time when you were not? Can you tell us more about that?
I was always a big kid, but I never thought I was not fit or fab. Let’s just say I was either a very confident or a very oblivious lad in school. I was just enjoying eating a lot and not moving as much as I am now, so naturally the kilos started compounding. For me, at the end of the day fitness is really more about health and the ability to enjoy doing the things we love to do. Fab is a state of mind - we can all be fabulous as we pursue our personal fitness goals!
12. Do you have anything else about yourself you’d like to share?
Although draining my savings to pursue my sporting goals has left me the poorest I’ve been in my life, I have never been happier! I love learning languages and watching all sorts of sports (figure skating, tennis, cycling, rugby, volleyball, you name it!)
Teck Lee's commitment to his sport, regardless of the hurdles, showcases the true spirit of athleticism. His dedication to respecting the sea and cherishing the canoe serves as a valuable lesson for anyone seeking to embark on a similar journey. Teck Lee's story is a reminder that with determination and hard work, you can achieve your goals and embrace a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.