According to Hong Kong’s star triathlete Oscar Coggins, you needn’t sacrifice your grades to become a great athlete.
“You don’t have to give up one aspect of your life for the sake of another,” Oscar said. “You can train and compete in triathlon at a high level without affecting your academics and vice versa.”
The 18-year-old was born and raised in Hong Kong, and is now in his final year at Millfield School, a school in England known for producing Olympians. He is in the process of surrendering his British passport so that he can represent Hong Kong in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“Hong Kong has basically been my only home all my life,” the former Canadian International School student told Young Post. “I feel a connection to this city. Even though I spent the last year in [Britain], I want to come back here to train and race.”
Right now, he is the top Hong Kong triathlete prospect. He won the Junior Asian Championships in Indonesia earlier this year, and was the first-placed Hongkonger at the Hong Kong National Championships last month.
Still, Oscar remains relatively unaffected by the pressure of being the city’s best hope for a Olympic medal in triathlon.
“All I can do is keep racing, keep training to the best of my ability, and if that’s not good enough, there’s not much I can do about it,” he said. “Maybe one day I’ll be stressed but I’m still young and I’m still improving. If I put everything I can into the sport, I can’t really have any regrets.”
What’s even more impressive is how he’s achieved all of this while maintaining academic excellence.
“I’ve got the balance of training and academics pretty much perfect at the moment,” said Oscar, who plans to study engineering at university. “I haven’t missed a training session because of school work, and I haven’t missed a school deadline because of training.
“It can definitely be a challenge, especially in weeks when I have a competition or exams approaching, but I just stay disciplined.”
It certainly is challenging. Oscar usually trains for least two of the three triathlon disciplines – swimming, cycling and running – for at least three hours a day.
“A normal day for me would be waking up at 5am and starting swimming at about 5.30pm for 90-100 minutes,” said Oscar, who says cycling is his favourite and strongest discipline. “Sometimes they make several people swim in one lane to simulate the crowded race conditions.
“After [lunch], we usually have strength and conditioning training, followed by another 90-100-minute bike or run in the afternoon. After training, I’ll go back and finish my school work.”
Oscar thinks it’s important to balance competitive spirit with strong self-focus.
“I think you have to definitely be competitive to succeed in triathlon. At the end of the day, I want to beat as many people as I can and win races – if you don’t do that, you’re not going to do well,” he said. “But I can’t spend energy worrying about other people and what they might do, because I can’t do anything about that. You have to put all of your energy into making yourself better.”
Now, Oscar is looking ahead to the 2018 Asian Championships, the Junior World Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Games.
“The best is yet to come from me,” he said.