Men of the Year 2015: Alex Yoong, Sportsman
Still Got It
For most Malaysians, mention motor racing and the first fellow countryman that comes to mind is almost undoubtedly Alex Yoong. Though his Formula 1 stint was a brief one that lasted from 2001 to 2002, the avid racer has all in all been racing continuously for 25 years now and remains the only Malaysian to have competed in the world’s fastest race.
Photographs by Vincent Paul Yong/Studio Verve, Outfits by Emporio Armani, Watches by Bell & Ross
Not in it for the money, nor one to back down in the face of adversity and failure, Yoong has put Malaysia on the map several times following F1 with three victories in the A1 Grand Prix between 2005 and 2008, and most recently, his second consecutive crown in the Audi R8 LMS Cup 2015 Championship, setting the record for first back-to-back triumph in the international sprint race series.
Today, Yoong’s high-octane spirit continues to be as resonant as when he first started, “I love competing. You do sport, you put in a stupid amount of hours just because you want to prove yourself against yourself. That’s how it is for me. It’s not about winning; it’s about challenging myself, setting new challenges.” Evidently, it is also the reason that led Yoong to reviving his water skiing career, a much more physically demanding sport, according to Yoong, and a skill he has developed together with his siblings since young, despite approaching his 40s. In the Singapore SEA Games, Yoong did us proud by bagging silver in the overall and bronze in the jump and slalom.
When asked about a good advice for budding athletes, Yoong instead directed it towards the parents, “It doesn’t just require the kid to commit but the family as well. Because if a kid has to go to Europe and race or Italy to water ski for two years straight, the whole family has to move with him. When a parent asks me about sports psychology, I would say, ‘Yes, I agree, but the first person who’s going to need a lesson is you,’ because they don’t realize that the environment is what produces the kid. Parents in Europe are there with their kids everyday in all the classes, courses and training.”