In the last six years, cycling has become the fastest growing sport in the country and is evidenced by the increase in bicycle sales. This has given rise to many cycling-related events where cycling is one of the many disciplines. Endurance events such as triathlons (swim-cycle-run) and duathlons (run-cycle-run) are sold out in a matter of days upon being opened for registration.
The last three years has seen lawyer Ernest Balasingam actively participating in these events to raise money for local community projects, wherein for every event he enters he raises RM1 per kilometre for the cumulative distance he covers.
The idea came about when he participated in a charity bike ride in Thailand in 2011 called the Tour of Hope (a charity that builds libraries in rural Thailand so children can have access to information, which is not so readily available through the education system) where the cyclist who participated raised anywhere up to USD1 for every kilometre they cycled.
For the past two years Ernest has used this model to raise money for two local charities, namely Noah’s Ark, an animal shelter and a centre in Ipoh Garden East which provides free tuition for the community. He does it for Thailand’s Tour of Hope too.
“I am fortunate that at age 51, I am able to do triathlons and running events relatively injury free. And for as long as I am able to do so, I’ll use my ability as a tool to benefit the community,” he told Ipoh Echo.
He encourages his children to participate as well. One of the intangible rewards he gets from his participation is to cross the finish line with his kids. In the past it was the challenge of finding the time of the day to train. Hence he is up at 5am almost every morning to either swim or cycle or run or do weight training in the gym.
Now it has taken on a newer significance, as there is accountability to his sponsors and donors. Many of his contemporaries, he said, find what he does commendable. However, he hopes that more will come forward to support his cause.
This year, barring injuries, Ernest plans to swim, cycle and run a cumulative distance of 1,320 kilometres. He hopes that other athletes will adopt this model and turn their passion for endurance sport to raise monies for charities.
To find out more about what Ernest does and the charities he supports, e-mail your queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.