“I was a national runner sponsored by ASICS before I started working for the sportswear company as their marketing executive. I currently manage athlete sponsorships and major sporting events.
In 2016, during the summer solstice in Europe, ASICS flew me to Geneva in Switzerland to take part in a race called Beat the Sun. Participants had to start before the sun was up and finish running around the mountainous terrain of Mont Blanc before the sun went down.
A few days before the race, I was hanging out with representatives from the company at this café that sat between two snow-capped mountains; it was incredible! Because Mont Blanc overlaps three countries, we were right smack between France and Italy.
If only I knew that would be the venue for my unexpected job interview. I was still studying at the time, and they asked what my plans were after graduation. I playfully said if there was a job opening at ASICS, I was interested, and the rest is pretty much history.
I actually started running because my mum thought I watched too much TV as a kid, so she got my uncle to pick me up at 6.30am every Sunday to run with him at MacRitchie Reservoir. I was in primary five then, and we ran together for a few years until he migrated to London.
I only started my competitive running career at 18 when I was still in poly, and I became a national athlete much later at 22. If you think about it, most runners start much younger. I did try to get into the national team at 18, but I just wasn’t as fast or as fit as the university boys.
But a lot of people told me it’s good that I had a late start. Many youths who started running competitively in secondary school burnt out quickly from all the stress they put their bodies through.
Because I started later, I can actually afford to enjoy running and training. I’m also not in a position where I must only listen to what the coaches have to say. As a young adult, I can make decisions for myself.
One of my best memories was participating in the 2015 SEA Games. I was the fastest 1.5km runner in Singapore then, and the coach had planned a very structured programme for all of us gunning to represent the country. It was the most stressful period of my life.
On the day of the race itself, my coach wasn’t pressuring me to bag a gold medal; he just wanted me to do my best. That gave me a lot of comfort because I could feel the weight of representing Singapore resting heavily on my shoulders.
I still remember how Nila, the official mascot, gently shushed everyone before my event, and the whole stadium went dead quiet. You can only hear the sound of your own breathing, and then the electronic gun goes off.
Everyone started running, and everything became a blur. The crowd went wild, and my muscles started feeling like jelly, which is normal when you’re nervous. I approached the first curve, and I heard the home crowd shouting, ‘Raviin! Raviin!’ and I finally found my rhythm.
Every step I took during the last 300m stretch was carried by the voice of Singapore. I’ve ran in the stadiums of other countries before, but running in Singapore as a Singaporean – nothing beats that feeling.
I finished the run, and I clocked in a time that was faster than the gold timing for the previous SEA Games. I came in fifth, but my family, friends and even random Singaporeans came up to me to say how proud they were. I can repeat that story for the rest of my life.
Three years have passed since then, and whenever I meet people, they still remember me for my sporting achievement in 2015 and how it inspired or impacted them in some way. I can’t blame them, and I’m very grateful for them, but that is all in the past.
Right now, I want to rewrite my story and be acknowledged for the person I am today. I still want to inspire people. Perhaps that’s through competitive running again; perhaps that’s within the capacity of working for ASICS.
I meet a lot of athletes who ask for sponsorships, and I used to be like them too. I used to look for people who would believe in me, so now, I want to set up the stepping stones for other athletes. That’s my way of giving back to the community. Whatever is it, try to look past Raviin of 2015, and see him for who he is today.” – Raviin, 28
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