Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Terry Tham

Terry Tham did cross country in his secondary school days, before switching to sprints. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more. Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook.

Name: Terry Tham (@terry_tham)

Age: 23

Height: 1.71m

Weight: 62kg

Occupation: Student

Status: Single

Diet: I don’t watch what I eat; I love fried chicken and prawn.

Training: Three days of full-body workout at the gym, two days of HIIT (high intensity interval training) and walking the dogs every day.

Terry Tham has a personal-best time of 52.94 seconds in the 400m sprint. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Q: Were you a sporty kid?

No, I wasn’t a very sporty kid; all I did was run around.

And you’re still running now.

Yes, I did cross-country when I was in secondary school and then I switched to sprints.

How did that switch happen?

My secondary school coach Mr Lim Tiang Quee actually saw potential in me for the 400m event, but I declined as I thought the training was tough and I wasn’t prepared for it so I stuck with cross-country.

Then in ITE Simei, my second coach Mr Patrick Zehnder insisted on me doing 400m so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give it a try. I did a time trial with him and my time was 57 seconds. From there I decided to focus on training for the 400m and after a month I took part in the Singapore Athletic Association Series 5 meet and clocked 55.13 seconds.

That motivated me greatly so I trained for the Singapore Under-23 Meet and clocked a personal best of 52.94 seconds.

Terry Tham won the 400m sprint at the 2015 Singapore Junior Athletics Championships. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Did you always like competing?

I first competed in running when I was 13, but I stopped the year after and went to work at McDonald’s part-time with my classmate. When I was 17 I realised I really miss competing so I signed up for track and field during the CCA (Co-Curricular Activities) fair. I was eager to do it all over again as the feeling of having your legs burn with lactic acid and clock a personal best is very addictive.

Singapore Open was the highest level I competed in, and some of my other achievements included winning the 400m at the Singapore Junior Athletics Championships 2015 and coming in second for the 4x400m relay at the Singapore Opens Track and Field Meet 2017.

Anyone who inspires you?

I was inspired by my training partner Nur Hamizah. I remember reading an article about her running 61 seconds for 400m as a 14-year-old.

Do you get comments about your body?

Yes, there are always people criticising my body and saying things like my arms are too small, my chest is too big for my build, my abs are just skinny abs. I think the most hurtful thing that someone said to me before was that I am ugly and my body is disgusting. However, I do get compliments from people, saying that I look like I work very hard for my abs or that my body evens out nicely.

Terry Tham is rehabilitating from a torn ACL and meniscus during national service. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

What’s next for you?

Currently I am studying at PSB Academy for my sports and exercise degree, and doing rehabilitation as I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and meniscus in the army. I haven’t been able to race because of my injuries. I hope to return to competing at some point, hopefully next year, as I really miss it.

Was there a time where you felt the least confident about yourself?

I felt the least confident about myself after I had reconstruction for my ACL and meniscus because I have very high muscle wastage and my legs became uneven. The size of my right leg was a third of my left leg and I was getting unnecessary attention from people saying that my leg looks weird. What I did was work extra hard to gain back the muscle lost and minimise the imbalance in my right leg.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Terry Tham. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)