Triathlete Petsy returns at the ripe old age of 59


KUALA LUMPUR: A road accident three months ago will not stop 59-year-old Petsy Yap from competing in the Ironman Langkawi triathlon on Feb 23. 

The pint-sized lady from Kuala Lumpur, whose physique belies her grit and determination, is the oldest women participant in the event. She made her debut in the gruelling triathlon last year and managed to finish the three disciplines - the 3.8km swim, 180.2km bicycle race and 42.2km run in less than the required time of 17 hours. She clocked 16 hours and 30 minutes. 

But her hopes of clocking a faster time this year have taken a knock, no thanks to the road accident last November. 

“I was cycling when suddenly a motorcyclist knocked into me. I had a deep cut on my right knee and could not train for more than a month. 

“I was fortunate not to have broken any bones. At my age, it's really difficult for the bones to heal. If I had broken a bone, I doubt that I would be competing in the triathlon anymore,'' said Petsy. 

ALL SET: Petsy Yap who is 59-years-old will be the oldest women participant at the Ironman Langkawi triathlon on Feb 23.

Petsy, who has been working in the US Embassy as a secretary for the last three decades, added that although the road accident would slow her down, it would not stop her. 

“I will still give my best although I am already reaching 60. However, I won't be able to challenge any women participant, as I am already old. I will be racing against myself to finish under 17 hours to get the certificate of excellence,'' said Petsy, who took part in Port Dickson triathlon few years ago. 

Petsy added she only trained for about two hours after work. On weekends, she puts in more than four hours. 

“Since the accident, I have been more careful when training and do my jogging and running at the Hyatt Saujana where there is less traffic. I do my weight training at Lake Club in Subang. 

Petsy, a Selangor state badminton player in the early 1970s said that of the three disciplines, she preferred running. “You can run anywhere but swimming is my weakest point especially swimming in the open sea.'' 

She said he loved the triathlon because it was the most challenging of sports. “Only those who are really dedicated and have strong will power will be able to finish the gruelling race,'' she declared. 

Meanwhile, defending male and female champions Bryan Rhodes of New Zealand and Danielle Florens of Mauritius, who completed the circuit in 8'10:35 and 10'29:36 last year, have confirmed their participations. 

A total of 368 participants will compete in the one-day event. Of the total, 340 are foreigners from 29 different countries. Japan alone will send 150 participants. 

Locally, the Armed Forces have entered the largest group of participants –18 men from Squadron 21 Commando confirmed their participation yesterday. 

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