Up close with Zoe Bowden: Malaysia’s representative at SEA Games Triathlon

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Up close with Zoe Bowden: Malaysia’s representative at SEA Games Triathlon

Triathlon is a demanding sport that requires balance in three disciplines. To be a successful triathlon athlete, the key is finding the right balance. For Zoe Bowden who has been selected to compete for Malaysia at the SEA Games in the triathlon category, balance is everything.

Zoe, a Garden International School (GIS) alumna, started participating in sports when she was five years old. She first got actively involved in swimming, athletic, T-ball and football. By nine, she was one of the strongest competitors in the racing field for her age. Neil Smith, the GIS primary deputy at that time, saw Zoe’s potential and introduced her to triathlon.

“I was hooked immediately. It is such a unique sport, it really challenged me physically and mentally,” says Zoe.

Photo caption
Left: Zoe competing in Singapore.
Right: Zoe crossing the finishing line in a race held in Singapore.

Zoe builds her sport experience by participating in competitions such as FOBISIA and ISAC championships. Her sportsmanship was celebrated through earning the school’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for Dragons swimming, which motivates her to do better. Zoe’s involvement and achievements in sports during her school years at GIS (2004 to 2015):

  1. SEASAC competitions for swimming
  2. SEASAC cross country
  3. U13 and U15 FOBISIA – swimming and athletics
  4. ISAC championships – swimming and athletics
  5. 13-14 years old girls 800m and 1500m track event record holder set in 2014
  6. Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards for GIS Dragons swimming (school competition team)

“During my time at GIS, I’d the privilege to be coached by many talented and passionate teachers in different sports specifically Mr Ian Deeth (athletics), Mr Neil Smith (athletics), Mr Ong (swim) and Mr Molloy (swim).”

Things could get especially hard approaching IGCSE examinations, “it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance but the support of my family, friends and teachers made the journey easier. At GIS, teachers made sure I was well prepared for my exams and gave me assistance when I needed it. This took a lot of pressure off my shoulders and gave me the confidence to do well in both academics and sports.”

GIS Director of Aquatics Richard Molloy coached Zoe from 2014 to 2015. He described her as a disciplined student who managed her schedule right and allocated her time wisely. A a result, she always maintained a good level in studies and sports. What set her apart from the rest was, according to him, her ability to analyse her own performance and react maturely to bad moments when she performed below expectations. “It’s something that students and even adults find hard to do,” he says.

Zoe trains every day including holidays and school breaks. She has only a morning off on a Friday.

“I don’t have much free time but when I do, you can find me catching up on my favourite TV series, spending time with my friends or going out to restaurants to try new food in town,” she adds.

Zoe’s motivation stems from within. She always strive to compete with herself.

“I want to be a better me every single day in everything that I do. I want to keep on improving my mistakes. I set realistic goal for myself, work hard to achieve it and once I accomplished that goal, I set a bigger one and keep going,” she says.

“I’m hoping to achieve top 3 at the SEA Games triathlon event this August. If all goes well, I’ll be aiming at qualifying for the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast and Asian Games next year. Eventually, I wish to compete in the Olympics 2020,” she adds.


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