Never Running From A Challenge - Some people attain a sense of calm or serenity through yoga, others through a leisurely stroll in the park. For Darren Ho, peace comes from pushing past his physical limits. The triathlete, tennis player and ultra-endurance athlete uses physical activity as a form of meditation to find peace of mind. No stranger to constantly setting new boundaries for himself, he uses exercise as a coping mechanism when life gets challenging. He picked up sports when he was dealing with being overweight and after learning about his invisible disabilities.
Just like his love for endurance sport, Darren found out about his diagnoses relatively late in life. While some are diagnosed during childhood, Darren found out he had ADHD, Autism, and Tourette’s Syndrome when he was 34 years old. He explained that having grown up with these disabilities, he grew accustomed to them. His meltdowns and lack of focus was something he had gotten used to. However, a meltdown in public as an adult resulted in a visit to a psychiatrist.
“I think the hardest part of the journey was the depression that set in when I first found out and also knowing that my parents struggled to deal with it, although that’s all good now. I’ve never seen my disability to be a disability but a blessing that I was given to do more things in my life to help others,” he explains.
As a coach and mentor, he seeks to inspire people to discover the best version of themselves. One of the ways he does this is by being open about his journey, and encouraging others not to be limited by their circumstance. He leads by example. Having witnessed an uncle pass away due to complications arising from obesity, Darren who weighed 150kg at that point, trained and took part in Ironman races and ultra-marathons to get healthy.
While his doctor advised him not to participate in triathlons as his Tourette’s affects his facial muscles and causes him to twitch when he gets fatigued, he pressed on. “We realise that we truly are only limited by our own beliefs and we need to get out there and reach for the stars if we want to live our dreams. I’ve crashed on my bike because of my Tourette’s but it serves to only feed my undying passion for pursuing more in life, not just in my ultra-endurance journey but also in my professional and personal life,” he explains.
Today, his favourite part of the day is putting on his running shoes at 4 in the morning and hitting the quiet streets of Singapore. For Darren, this is the chance to remind himself that there’s a lot to be thankful for and his gratefulness at being given a chance to seize another day. Completing the Ironman Triathlon is an immense physical feat, exemplifying endurance beyond measure. But Darren displays something much more – mental tenacity and inner strength. That’s just something you can’t run away from.
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