Eyes on the gold medal for the next SEA Games: Tony Payne

Currently residing in London, training for the Southeast Asian Games was very challenging for New Zealand born Tony Payne who had to adjust to Vietnam's hot and humid climate

PHOTO: CHERYL TAY, SPORTPLUS.SG


It took over a decade of dedication and hard work for ASICS marathoner Tony Payne to be the runner he is today.


At his first race as a child, he finished 150th out of 200 runners. But he never stopped working at his goals throughout the years and started showing promise in running in his mid-20s. From that point, he has been shaking up the Southeast Asian running scene.

The 33-year-old New Zealand-born sports lawyer, born to a Kiwi father and Thai mother, chose to represent Thailand and made his debut in Thai national colours at the 2018 Asian Games.


He finished eighth overall and was the fastest Southeast Asian. In the same year, he clocked a personal best time of 2:16:56 at the Frankfurt Marathon, which still stands as the Thai national marathon record today.

PHOTO: CHERYL TAY, SPORTPLUS.SG


Currently residing in London, training for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games was very challenging. First, he had to switch his mindset to one that was racing to win, as opposed to racing for his personal best time at major races against world-class runners.


Aside from injuries and mental barriers, the biggest challenge was really the difference in weather conditions. It was cold in the English winter, nothing like the hot and humid climate of Hanoi, Vietnam, where the SEA Games were held.

PHOTO: CHERYL TAY, SPORTPLUS.SG


To help him prepare, he transformed his garage into an artificial environment where he recreated the Southeast Asian tropical weather. His personal heat chamber included a treadmill in a big tent, along with three heaters and three humidifiers.


He ended up spoiling a laptop (which he used to watch Netflix as he ran on the treadmill) because of the heat and had to buy a new iPad with a waterproof case, but this setup worked brilliantly.

PHOTO: CHERYL TAY, SPORTPLUS.SG


The Hanoi conditions did not faze Tony and from the get-go, he was quick to take the lead, in his choice of shoes – the ASICS Metaspeed Sky.


It was a very uplifting experience for Tony to have controlled most of the race with Indonesia’s Agus Prayogo on his heels, until the last 5km when home favourite Hoang Nguyen Thanh found an extra gear and pipped both of them to the gold.

PHOTO: CHERYL TAY, SPORTPLUS.SG


Finally, Tony had to settle for a bronze, but it was his first medal for Thailand and something he is very proud of. His whole life has led him to this moment – winning a medal for his country – and this motivates him more to get to the top of the podium at the next SEA Games.


To Tony, to Live Uplifted means to improve yourself a little every day over a long period of time, taking incremental steps to reach your potential.

PHOTO: CHERYL TAY, SPORTPLUS.SG


We all have our strengths and weaknesses to work on and in his story, it took him an accumulation of years of hard work.


This applies to life too, where you don’t have to make a big jump but just look at being a little bit better than yesterday, and making long-term progress.


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