His trainees call him coach GP, that’s Guo Pei not Grand Prix although, similar to an F1 car, the former sprinter and hurdler zips around the track. Having just signed on as a Sport Singapore Ambassador, the former Team Singapore runner, brings his experience as an elite athlete and easy smile to the mix.
We find out over kopi that this speed freak will sometimes show his teeth when he needs to and has a slightly masochistic side. Life, and apparently Coach GP, is just full of surprises.
You’ve run several different distances in your career, which is your favourite?
Guo Pei: I’ve tried many events from 200m to 800m to 400m hurdles, but what I really like the most in the end is still the 400m dash. It’s the pain that I have to go through during the race and I really enjoy it. The other surprising event for me was the 400m hurdles. I tried it out and after a year of training I managed to break the “C” division record. I found that the event was really fun as well with all the strength work you have to do to push through the last three hurdles. So, as you can tell, I love events that are tough!
Loh Guo Pei (left) puts pen to paper as a Sport Singapore ambassador. Photo: SportSG
What was your most memorable meet or event?
Guo Pei: It was an overseas meet in Taiwan when I was still one of the top junior athletes. I had very high expectation of myself and expected to hit a timing of 48 or 49 seconds (for the 400m dash). I was running the last leg of the 4x400m with my team in second position. I got really nervous and couldn’t control my emotions. I lost the second position after the first 100 meters and toward the last 100 meters I lost the third position and my team came in fourth. I was really upset with my performance, but my team huddled around me and consoled me. They told me that it was fine and that it was a team effort, this touched me and it was then that I realized how much team spirit and team work matter in sport.
How did you get into coaching?
Guo Pei: It all started when I was an athlete, when my coach needed an assistant coach, I helped him out and that was when I started figuring out how to train school athletes. I decided it was a really fulfilling job, helping the next generation of athletes improve and to improve myself as an educator.
Loh Guo Pei has run several distances in his career, with the 400m dash being his favourite. Photo: SportSG
When kind of coach are you? Are you more authoritative or more encouraging?
Guo Pei: I would say it’s a mix of both. When I first started (running) it was all about discipline. Having a commitment to performance with regard to time, effort and focus. At the same time, I look at the emotional aspect of my trainees. When they feel down, I won’t scold them but instead encourage them. So, it really depends on the situation and the mental state that the athletes are in.
How will being a Sport Singapore Ambassador help you as a coach?
Guo Pei: I hope that when the athletes (that I train) find out that I am a Sport Singapore Ambassador they will be inspired by my healthy lifestyle and help spread the word among their friends. These kids have lots of followers and when they post something their friends may “like” the post and may be inspired to have a healthy lifestyle too.
To find out more about Sport Singapore's brand ambassadors, visit: https://bit.ly/2Rh3Zec