Malaysian citizens are often united by various things, such as our love for food and passion for sports. In fact, Malaysia is known for excelling in football, badminton, squash and has now even produced the best tower runner in Asia!
Meet Soh Wai Ching, Asia’s No.1 Tower Runner and ranked No.2 in the world. Tower running? Is it a sport? Yes! Tower running is a sport where one is required to run up tall man-made structures through an internal staircase to certain floors in the shortest time possible. The fastest runner is the ultimate winner.
Wai Ching has dedicated eight years of life to this sport. He started at the age of 18 with the help of his sister and close friend. According to Wai Ching, his close friend, Jeffrey Ross invited him to take part in the 2017 KL Tower International Towerthon Challenge. The two made an interesting bet, in which the loser will have to wear a pink skirt in their subsequent race. Eventually, he won the race and the Best Malaysian accolade. Feeling motivated by his victory, he decided to pursue a more professional route as a tower runner.
While juggling between part-time jobs, Wai Ching pursued his Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Science at University Malaya (UM). Despite various obstacles, the 25-year-old from Selayang managed to graduate with excellent results and expand his horizons as a tower runner beyond the Asian continent. Wai Ching was the only Asian and the first Malaysian to qualify in the elite category of the 4th Edition of the La Verticale De La Tour Eiffel Tower in 2018 securing the ninth place in the competition.
With 5,000m and 10,000m tower running categories being his forte, some of Wai Ching’s notable achievements include being the first-ever South East Asian to compete in the 2018 Towerrunning World Championship in Taipei. He also championed the Turkish Airline KL Tower International Towerthon Challenge this year and received the Best Malaysian Award yet again. He went on to conquer the 2019 Carrera Vertical El Ejido and also came in second in the 42nd Edition of the Empire State Building Run-Up. His record remains unbeaten in both Malaysia and Asia.
What is even more fascinating is the fact that Wai Ching is his own greatest coach! He trains by himself in order to get into the best shape for competitions and also coaches running clinics at Garmin Runfident.
In an exclusive interview with Goodnews Malaysia, here’s what Wai Ching has to say about representing Malaysia and being Asia’s No.1 and World No.2 – “I am absolutely proud to be carrying our country’s name and flag on my shoulders! Whenever I compete in international championships, I know for a fact that I have Malaysia’s support. Despite the lack of social media publicity about tower running, I know that one day, I will be able to put a smile on everyone’s face. Just the thought of that keeps my adrenaline pumping. Being able to have the Malaysian flag (Jalur Gemilang) with me on the podium are some of my proudest and most unforgettable moments.”
Being a full-time athlete for almost a year, Wai Ching concedes that it is not an easy task. He has faced challenges with funding for overseas races and a lot of issues may arise in dealing with potential sponsors and scheduling arrangements. Wai Ching remains unfazed and looks at every obstacle or hardship as a stepping stone for success.
“Being an athlete is not just about being good at the sport, it is also about commitment, social media marketing and establishing a name for yourself. Due to the lack of funding, most athletes including me have to be independent in securing affordable flight tickets, planning accommodation, transportation, etc. As I currently self-manage my schedule, I also have to design my own training program, analyse my own performance, calculate my race pace and come up with a strategy. Despite the trouble, I believe that self-management is a key aspect of becoming a successful athlete.”
Wai Ching points out that perservance is crucial for success in any industry as is self-belief. “I aim to achieve my goals no matter what and with determination and a strong belief in myself, I know I can make things happen,” says the athlete confidently.
As for his future plans, Wai Ching has already set sights on becoming the World’s No.1 Tower Runner. “I believe I will achieve my goal with all the hard work I have put in. I believe each and every one of you can do the same with the power of self-belief. What is important is to grab every opportunity you get and put in your all to make everyone proud.”
A big salute to Soh Wai Ching for putting Malaysia on the map for Tower Running. We wish him nothing but success in achieving his goal of becoming the World’s No. 1 Tower Runner!
* Featured image sourced from Tower Running UK