age group profile
“Hearing impairment definitely has had an impact on my training and racing. Once, at a qualifying race for Duathlon Worlds, I did an extra lap because I couldn’t hear the bell that rang for the last lap,” says Victor Wong without the slightest bit of complaint. A selfconfessed “lazy person,” Wong’s humility belies his impressive multisport performances, which include a duathlon age group award in 2007 and several Olympic distance podium finishes. In addition to his athletic prowess, the ever smiling Scarborough, Ont. native is a deep thinker. “I’ve always felt there’s a correlation between triathlon and a shift in human behaviour in the 21st century. The growth in people participating in triathlons, I think, ref lects a bigger shift toward multitasking. It is not about quality over quantity anymore; it is about both quality and quantity,” says Wong. The postdoctoral fellow in the field of neuroscience is also a passionate artist with a burgeoning interest in fashion design.
Wong began running and cycling as an undergraduate simply as a means to increase fitness. His swimming was what he calls “simply abysmal.” His first coach, Ken Royds, helped get him into triathlon. He was later coached by, Canadian professional triathlete, Tara Norton with whom his performances improved.
As a hearing-impaired athlete, Wong has confronted numerous obstacles, but he’s always taken those in stride. “I love group activities, but I don’t do well in random groups. I am anxious all the time as I miss out on the conversations that may appear to be deceptively trivial but are important, especially about how fast and how far we go, where to regroup and what to look out for ahead. But, thankfully, I have had incredibly understanding coaches and friends,” he explains.
Wong typically trains between 14 and 20 hours each week. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are swim days, Tuesdays and Saturdays are bike and/or brick days, and Wednesdays and Sundays are run days. Intertwined with these workouts are yoga, core strength and stretching sessions. Still, he says, “I’m not a morning person at all and, being a deaf person, I can’t wake up to alarms. And I don’t do lunchtimes either. I usually train after work and it’s amazing how much you can do within a limited time frame if you plan efficiently. I’m a lazy person, but I think of laziness as a form of efficiency and good time management. I always strategize my time the day before with backup plans and more back-backup plans if anything goes wrong. I love planning and draw f low charts to visualize how the day should go. It may sound rigid, but I don’t necessarily follow it 100 per cent as nothing ever goes according to the plan.”
Wong has a bachelor’s degree in human biology and graduate degrees in physiology. He currently specializes in the auditory system. By way of explanation, he says “I was diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing at the age of four. My parents decided that I go through speech therapy and training in order to communicate verbally. Thanks to them and all the teachers I’ve had, I’m now a great lip reader.” As such, “hearing research is something l am tremendously passionate about.”
Outside of the lab and lycra, he enjoys painting, drawing and writing. “I find solace in art, where no hearing is required. The world of science can seem cold. Data collection and analysis needs to be objective and free from emotion. It can seem robotic even, which can be cool, but we are fuelled by passion and love, and the arts allow me those and give me a balance.”
Almost as an afterthought, Wong adds, “Triathlon drives me to excel, without excuses. I apply what I have learned from triathlon to other aspects of my life, like at work or making art, where I demand and expect a lot from myself. When it succeeds it is a beautiful thing – just like the finish line.”