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Post SEA Games Interview – Lee Cheng Wei, “The team was ready to claim any medal, even gold”
  • January 10th, 2010

The previous post SEA Games interview we spotlight former soccer player turn national sprinter Elfi Mustapa, and now here’s another interview with Lee Cheng Wei.

Currently pursuing his studies at NTU, the former VJC’ian made a remarkable comeback after laying off from sprinting for a year, and under the guidance of his coach Melvin Tan, the 22 year old can now claim a SEA Games medal and a national record under his belt.

Photos courtesy of Elfi Mustapa and Team Singapore.


Lee Cheng Wei

Lee Cheng Wei proudly shows his silver medal

Lee Cheng Wei proudly shows his silver medal

Gender: Male

Affiliation: Wings Athletics Club, NTU

Coach: Melvin Tan

Post SEA Games result: 4×100m 39.82s 2nd (NR, PB)


So the SEA Games is over, what are you doing currently.

Currently, I’m enjoying school holidays (The interview was done back in December 2009) and training soccer for Inter-Hall Games in NTU. I’m representing Hall 3.

Going into the SEA Games Laos what were your goals, and expectations.

Of course, our priority as a team was to break the national record with a sub-40s performance and a bronze medal which the team missed out on in 2007.

Well for me, I felt that the team was ready to claim any medal (even gold) should any other countries slip up. Anything can happen in 4x100m relay races.

What was your normal daily routine when you were at Laos.

We had a rather intense relay training programme by Coach Hamkah. I also had to fit in Mr Melvin’s training too when I had the time. Most of the time, it was just resting and trying to recover as much as possible when I had free time away from training. We also walked around the SEA Games village to stretch our legs.

How was the SEA Games village?

Yes. It was an eye-opener for me. Usually we would stay in hotels for overseas competitions but this is certainly a nice change. Seeing different countries from different sports doing warm-ups and mixing around gave me a chance to meet and be exposed to different cultures.

The environment at the village was comfortable and friendly. Makes me feel very much at home.

Were you able to execute your competition plans by your coach (Hamkah and Melvin) successfully for the 4x100m finals. What was told of you for the finals? Again share with us your experience running the race.

The boys ecstatic with their performance

The boys ecstatic with their performance

Of course for Coach Hamkah, it was to focus on his instructions. Focus on taking off accurately and the passing phase was absolutely vital. However, as much as we want to focus on the instructions, the atmosphere at the races will certainly affect us and I was trying to be as focused at possible.

For Mr Melvin, it was more of preparing us physically for the race, which was more important.

Tell us about your coach, Melvin Tan, and some of the sacrifices made by him

Mr Tan is one of the best sprints coaches that anyone can have. Sometimes I feel that as important is the quality of training workouts, the attitude that a coach sets during training is as important. He makes us realise the importance of each and every run, and that we are not running just for the sake of completing training.

He is an unassuming and humble man. He talks to his athletes about morals and principles and it really rubs off with his athletes. To him, character is more important than talent.

Mr Tan trains athletes using his own time and expenses. Of course he’d be sacrificing time spent with family and I know it can be tough sometimes to juggle work and family.

Share with us the relationship and arrangement you have with your coach.

I have been training under Mr Tan since my Victoria Junior College days. The trust that I have in him is very strong. We share a close relationship and I visit his family during Chinese New Year etc. I would say that he had build a ‘family’ with our training group (400m runner Kenneth Khoo, women sprinter Asmah Hanim, etc.).

Cheng Wei's coach Melvin Tan shares insights before his race

Cheng Wei's coach Melvin Tan shares insights before his race

Training under Mr. Tan he asked for no payment at all. He trains athletes for the passion of the sports, and the same goes for our training group. Throughout these years, since my JC days, Mr Tan has stood by me even when I was down and out. He chose not to give up on me even when I had to go through Army and when I stopped training for about a year. He has always trusted that I can do it.

Tell us of your own sacrifices. Do you even feel that you’re missing out on anything, or the sports itself is your own self-gratification.

Training definitely takes up lots of energy. Training hard also requires discipline when I’m off the track. Sleeping early is very important and I feel that most uni students study/do tutorials and assignments through the night.

Therefore I feel that I’m missing out on a lot of study time. However, waking up fresh and well-rested for training the next day is more gratifying to me than to have studied more.

During competition period, on a weekly basis how often do you train. Share with us some of the stuff you do during training.

During in-season, we try to recover more than trying to improve. About 3 times a week. Weights, speed workout and relay skills.

What are your plans for the next season.

Train to qualify for Asian Games 200m or 100m.

Goals and expectations for the next SEA Games 2011 in Indonesia? Will you still be around sprinting?

Cheng Wei wishes to be up on the podium once again, silver or better

Cheng Wei wishes to be up on the podium once again, silver or better

I definitely hope so. Of course I will train hard and do my best to keep my place in the relay team. In the process also try to qualify for the individual 100m and 200m events.

If there anything in your current pursuit for gold that needs changes or more support.

Personal sponsors will definitely help. By providing training gear and equipment helps athletes focus on training hard rather than worrying about being unable to get new spikes etc. Training camps can also help me focus more on training and being less distracted.

What do you think can be done to improve the state of local athletics.

There has to be a better system in place to help develop young athletes. NS, especially, is a huge step backwards for many young athletes.

SAA has got to put in more effort to focus their attention on developing young athletes, rather than purely identifying young talents and forgetting about them as soon as they meet problems.

What are your opinion on the SSC/MCYS vs SAA spat and war of words.

I feel that they will have to sort out the problems themselves, as soon as possible. As national athletes, I feel that I need to do my job of continuing to train hard and not to get distracted. It’s the best way to help the sport.


Thank you Lee Cheng Wei for your participation.

Please contact me using the below form if there’s any individual or corporate entity who wishes sponsor and be part of Cheng Wei sporting journey.

[contact-form 1 “Contact form 1”]

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Posted by Uncle Sha.
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