Interview with Michael On (Top Filipino age group triathlete)

Story about Asian age grouper who is a father, a triathlete and full time coach. How can he accomplish all these tasks? Read full story in this blog.

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Interview with Michael On (Top Filipino age group triathlete)

TC: Hello. Kindly introduce yourself.

MO: Hi my name is Michael On. You can call me Mike. I am an age group triathlete from Philippines.

TC: Please tell us about your sport background.

MO: I started my serious athletic phase back 2004 in the Philippines. I have participated in running races within Metro Manila (5k and 10k). While pursuing my teaching career in the Philippines.

I became a member of RCP dragon boat team in Manila where we competed for races held within the Philippines, e.g. Subic Bay, Boracay Island, etc. In 2008, I moved to UAE as an expat and continued being a paddler for various teams in Abu Dhabi. I was part of the UAE team who competed for the International Dragon Boat races held in Penang (Malaysia) and Macau in 2010.

I got so involved with the sport and hard work paid off; I was asked to coach Abu Dhabi Marines team and assisted Shangri La and Traders Hotel teams with their weekly trainings. With our team effort, Abu Dhabi Marines became one of the most competitive dragon boat team in the UAE. And in 2012, we were able to compete for the International Dragon Boat races held in Penang (Malaysia) and Hong Kong. 


In the same year, I was invited to join a three-race series triathlon race (Sprint) event as swimmer (1st series) for a relay team. Then we rotated, and I ended up doing the run leg for the 2nd series. On the last series, I have already gained confidence that decided to do the full race on my own. That was the day when I got bitten by the triathlon bug! 


However, the commitments of being a new father I had to choose between dragon boating or triathlon. The flexibility of training on my own as compared to group training's made me pick triathlon over dragon boating. Since then I have been doing Sprint, Olympic, Ironman 70.3 and full distances.

TC: What it's like to work, live and train in Abu Dhabi, UAE?

MO: I have been living and working in UAE for almost 11years now, I work in a government institution and I’m lucky as they promote the welfare of its employee (reduced working and flexible hours). So I can do some training before the family wakes up and work demands.


I do my weekday sessions within the area we live so save time, but I do most of my bike sessions indoors for safety and time saving too. But on the weekend for my long sessions I make sure I train outdoors.  We are very blessed as there are special cycling lanes.

TC: How to deal with hot weather both training and living during summer in UAE?

MO: Acclimatization and preparation is key.  That’s why I still try to run in the heat during the winter months in preparation of the summer months. I do most of my weekday/hard sessions indoors to ensure quality using treadmills and bike trainers


For my long/easy weekend sessions I still do it outdoors just need to the start earlier.  We ride from 5am till 9am only and having mandatory stops every 90mins for water refill taking electrolytes and tipping water over our head to regulate body temperature during the course of the session.  

But if we have to prepare for an Ironman race in July or August we use to start at 1am or ride at night around 7pm till midnight or ride indoors, but with the introduction of Zwift it is more bearable now.   


Open water swimming is very challenging as the sea water gets hot unlike in the tropics it’s when its summer sea is cold, so I do all of my swim in lap pools to ensure quality over quantity.

TC: Please give us some example of how's your day looks like?


0630 Wake up and coffee

0700 My 1st session of the day either bike or a run

0830 Breakfast then prepare for work

1300 Lunch around (need to eat on time before my post work session)

1630 Swim or strength training

1800 Dinner

2000 Daddy duties and bedtime

TC: Back in Philippines, triathlon has become one of the most popular sport among Filipino. How does this happen and why so many people have decided to be triathletes?  

MO: Triathlon has been in the Philippines for quite some time specially “SUBIT”, but it boomed just recently I think it’s mainly because of sunrise event and of multimedia marketing, people came to know more about it and saw that its not only for the fast athletes.

TC: Thank you so much Michael. Hope to see you soon.

MO: Thank you TC. See you soon.



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