More to sports than push­ing bar­ri­ers

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed - ROZANA SANI

KHONG Teng Keen, 28, has al­ways been ac­tive in sports. From his pri­mary school years, the Kuala Lumpur na­tive has played foot­ball, bas­ket­ball and bad­minton, and prac­tised martial arts. He was a mem­ber of the foot­ball teams in both pri­mary and sec­ondary school, and dur­ing the early years of his un­der­grad­u­ate days, he rep­re­sented Univer­sity of Malaya (UM) in the sport.

Due to an an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in­jury, the Bach­e­lor of Sports Science grad­u­ate de­cided to opt for base­ball in­stead and he has rep­re­sented UM in in­ter-var­si­ties base­ball games since. Due to his pas­sion for sports, he is a mem­ber of Raiders Base­ball Club, which par­tic­i­pates in the Klang Val­ley base­ball week­end league.

Khong be­lieves the ex­pe­ri­ence of tak­ing part in dif­fer­ent sports has helped him to be ready to learn any­thing, any­time, from any­one. Cur­rently a Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy in Sports Science can­di­date — one of the few who by­passed the process of get­ting a mas­ter’s de­gree af­ter grad­u­at­ing with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree — Khong said there is more to sports than push­ing phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers and that there must be a fo­cus on science to en­able sports­men to achieve higher per­for­mance.

“Sports is not some­thing I en­joy just phys­i­cally. My in­ter­est in sports science also stems from want­ing to un­der­stand how my body works when I take part in sports. I en­vis­age a ca­reer in re­search, specif­i­cally in sports science,” said the self-pro­fessed tech nerd who views him­self as an in­tro­vert out­side sports. He reads widely — from his­tory and bi­ogra­phies to science fic­tion — and watches doc­u­men­taries.

Hav­ing made the dean’s list nu­mer­ous times dur­ing his un­der­grad­u­ate years, his lec­tur­ers at UM’s Sports Cen­ter rec­om­mended him to en­rol in the post­grad­u­ate pro­gramme af­ter fin­ish­ing his bach­e­lor’s de­gree.

“Dur­ing my de­gree pro­gramme, I ma­jored in Ex­er­cise Phys­i­ol­ogy and mi­nored in Science of Coach­ing. The pro­gramme cov­ered the phys­i­o­log­i­cal changes of the hu­man body to­wards ex­er­cise, in­clud­ing acute changes dur­ing ex­er­cise, and the chronic adap­ta­tion fol­low­ing a train­ing pro­gramme or ac­tive life­style.”

There were also el­e­ments of nu­tri­tion, psy­chol­ogy, bio­chem­istry and coach­ing/teach­ing meth­ods. As a re­search univer­sity pro­gramme, it also con­sists of as­sign­ments that mimic aca­demic re­search, which helped pre­pare Khong for re­search-ori­ented life of a doc­toral can­di­date.

Khong’s doc­toral re­search is on ef­fects of car­bo­hy­drates on Cen­tral Fa­tigue fol­low­ing en­durance ex­er­cise. Cen­tral Fa­tigue refers to the form of fa­tigue as­so­ci­ated with changes within the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem. “Sim­ply put, I ob­serve changes in the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem fol­low­ing en­durance ex­er­cises with dif­fer­ent car­bo­hy­drate pre­scrip­tions.”

His fo­cus is on long du­ra­tion run­ning. “I pre­scribe meals for ath­letes and ob­tain data from blood tests, elec­tromyo­g­ra­phy read­ings and elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tions. Ath­letes run for 90 min­utes and I do a post-test to see the dif­fer­ence in re­sults be­tween the dif­fer­ent meals pre­scribed. I mon­i­tor how their bodies re­act,” said Khong, ad­ding that ex­am­in­ers in Tai­wan, Den­mark and UM are vet­ting his the­sis.

On the im­por­tance of peo­ple in sports to be knowl­edge­able about science, Khong said it is cru­cial so that pro­grammes pre­scribed can be op­ti­mised.

“Most ath­letes fol­low what the coaches pre­scribe with­out know­ing the rea­son. Some na­tional ath­letes do not know why they prac­tise yoga. They will ap­pre­ci­ate it more if they know the ben­e­fits — breath­ing dur­ing yoga helps re­plen­ish en­ergy and flushes out lac­tates. Ev­ery pro­gramme has its aim. Even the pub­lic should

Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy

in Sports Science, Univer­sity of Malaya (third-year can­di­date)

Bach­e­lor of Sports Science, Univer­sity

of Malaya Intern at Ex­er­cise Phys­i­ol­ogy Cen­ter, Na­tional Sports In­sti­tute (2012) know what ex­er­cise suits them.”

Khong, who re­cently rep­re­sented Malaysia at a sports sem­i­nar in Kanoya in Ja­pan, com­mended the coun­try’s sports train­ing and as­sess­ment.

“The fo­cus was on prepa­ra­tion for Olympics 2020 which Ja­pan is host­ing. There is a fo­cus on sci­en­tific re­search for high per­for­mance sports and man­age­ment, which can be im­ple­mented in Malaysia to push sports to a higher level. How­ever, it takes a gen­er­a­tion for re­sults to show.”

Khong Teng Keen con­duct­ing re­search. Sports and science go hand in hand, says Khong Teng Keen.

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