This is an article on my woman Lilian Tan which was recently published in the Star papers dated 15th Nov 2010. Finally some recognition for women who carries the Malaysian flag high and proud in international events.
Lilian Tan - center, Terry Gallyot - in blue.
In great shape to take on the world
By RONNIE OH
IT is quite rare find a woman involved in a men's sport like body building.
Penang-born Lilian Tan is one such woman who stumbled into the sport by accident.
Despite having to endure the pain she had to put her muscles through just to excel in the sport, her determination and eagerness to make the country proud had paid off, more than 20 years after she decided to take up the sport seriously.
She became the first Malaysian woman to take part in a major competition namely the South East Asian, Asian & World Bodybuilding & Physique Sports Championship which was held in Singapore last month.
Lilian, a freelance International Sports Sciences Association certified fitness trainer in Penang, flexed her muscles to third placing in not one, but two levels of competition.
She walked away with the bronze medals at the Asian level competition and also the World Women Model Physique 160cm category.
"It was like a dream come true as until recently, women's bodybuilding was banned in Malaysia due to some opposition by the religious department which deemed the sport as inappropriate.
"This forced me to represent the United States in the Woman's Bodybuilding Open category and Professional category, finishing with a silver and a bronze respectively in 2004.
"But after a six-year lapse, my dream of representing Malaysia at an international level took a twist. I was thrilled to learn that women today are no longer banned from participating," she said.
Lilian explained that instead of bodybuilding, women are allowed to feature in the fitness and physique category.
"I did not have much time to prepare for the event, since the invitation came six weeks before the actual event but this did not stop me from grabbing the chance to don national colours."
Lilian attributed her success to former Mr Asia Terry Gallyot, who was also six time Mr Malaysia, as the tips she received were invaluable.
Her success has put the country on the world's bodybuilding map and this serves as a "warning" to renowned Asian countries like Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia and even China, that Malaysia is ready to end their dominance.
She said she was close to tears when she came to know that she had won the bronze medals, adding that she felt so proud to be able to help Malaysia gain recognition in the women's category at the Asian and World level.
Her feats are made even more memorable as swimming was her first love.
Lilian, who went to the United States to pursue her academic and swimming careers, saw her life taking a sudden twist when her varsity pool in San Diego had to undergo renovation.
Determined to maintain her level of fitness as a competitive swimmer in her high school days, this prompted Lilian to go to the gymnasium for her daily workout routines.
It was there that she was coaxed into taking up bodybuilding as she had been blessed with the physique of what a bodybuilder needs.
Initially, she was not convinced but she slowly grew to like workouts. The transition to bodybuilding was made easier since she had a competitive background in swimming.
The string of titles which followed subsequently, served as a boost for Lilian to venture further into the sport, with the highlight of her new found "love" unfolded in 2004.
Her success in capturing the overall crown in the Miss USA Natural paved her way to the International Natural Body-building Association Pro Card, an award which recognises her as a qualified trainer.
It was only last year, after a residing in Califonia for 20 years, that Lilian decided to pack her bags and head home, just to be closer to her family and as well as to begin a new chapter of her romance with bodybuilding.
With the two international medals in her collection, she is looking forward to her new goal.
She is planning to move to Kuala Lumpur from Penang to further enhance her career as a certified trainer and help other Malaysian women fulfil their dreams as well.
"Although I am still hoping to be blessed with the opportunity to compete and represent Malaysia again next year, I feel the time is right for me to give back to the sport and country."
Lilian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org