Olympic swimmers, windsurfers, equestrians and taekwondo pros share their morning routines and motivational training tips

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Photo Courtesy of Samantha Lam

With the 2016 Olympics coming to a close, we’re feeling more inspired than ever to get fit. We know that adopting and maintaining healthy habits is challenging, so to motivate us we’ve enlisted eight past and present Hong Kong Olympians to get us off to a great start. We might not be able to win a gold medal, finish a 5km race - or even run - but we can give their expert tips and tricks a try. Here are the morning routines that they swear by - served with a side of motivation.

 Hannah Wilson

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Photo Courtesy of Hannah Wilson

Name: Hannah Wilson
Sport: Swimming
Team: Hong Kong
Olympic Year: 2004, 2008 and 2012

Morning Routine: “My alarm clock usually goes off at 4:55am, and I swim from 5:30-6:30am on training days. I can't eat before I exercise early in the morning so I opt for some water first thing to make sure I’m well hydrated. I get a protein shake on my way to work, and breakfast is eggs and coffee at 7:30am once I get to my office. This is all before my work day kicks off at 8:15am which is when I start teaching.”

Motivational Tip: “If you find something you love, pursue it, or you'll never know your true potential.” 

Geoffrey Cheah 

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Photo Courtesy of Sean Juo

Name: Geoffrey Cheah 
Sport: Swimming
Team: Hong Kong
Olympic Year: 2016

Morning Routine: “After waking at 7:07am, I hydrate with about 0.5-1 litres of water with some mixed fruit juice added in for flavour - my body just soaks it up after being dehydrated from sleeping. I eat breakfast an hour and a half before training and usually have a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, raisins with some cinnamon, along with two scrambled eggs on the side. Before making my morning splash, I do about 30-45mins of foam rolling and prehabilitation, followed by about two hours of swimming (six days a week) focused on high intensity sprinting (with a maximal effort one rep mentality), along with some nice easy swimming and drilling. My routine goes in cycles though, so this is my training style in my final few weeks before competing. I have about four hours of rest before a two-hour weight session in the afternoon (on odd days of the week).”

Motivational Tip: “The secret to success is in the process. While I use the end result to give me purpose, focusing on each rep and enjoying each moment helps me to live out the dream and let things happen.”

Geoffrey Cheah is an ambassador of Harvest Sky

Patrick Lam 

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Photo Courtesy of Patrick Lam

Name: Patrick Lam
Sport: Equestrian Showjumping
Olympic Year: 2008

Morning routine: “I wake up at 6:00am and drink two glasses of warm water followed by black coffee. Even though I love a full English breakfast I usually only eat cereal or oatmeal with soy milk in the morning. As a horse rider you're busy training and taking care of your horses every day so there's not much time to do a lot of fitness training for yourself. It’s usually during shows when I only have a couple of horses to train that I use the hotel gym, pool and sauna to stay relaxed and balanced.”

Motivational Tip: “If you find it hard to stay motivated remember that you only have a certain peak period in your life and you should make the best use of it. Staying fit and eating well will protect you from injuries and that will give you more time to enjoy sport at a high level and focus on details instead of recovering from injuries.”

Samantha Lam 

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Photo Courtesy of Samantha Lam

Name: Samantha Lam
Sport: Equestrian Showjumping
Country: Hong Kong
Olympic Year: 2008

Morning Routine: “I wake up 2-3 times a week at 5:00am to get a workout in at the gym at 5:30am. I do a lot of interval training, plyometric workouts and also sessions with my personal trainer, Tanessa, once a week. She builds me a great programme focusing on strength and a lot of core stability which I need for riding. I get back from the gym around 6:30am, shower and then wake up my son. On my rest days I wake up at 7:00am. I like to start my days with a Latté Macchiato or a Chai Latté and kick off the day by preparing breakfast for my family which is usually something easy like cereal. I'm not a big breakfast person but I like having a smoothie in the morning or a protein shake. I drink about one litre of water at the gym so that usually gets me going! Sometimes I'll add a bit of fruit juice to the water... On the weekends I like to indulge in a croissant or pain au chocolat!”

Motivational Tip: "Sticking to a routine: I try to get to the gym at least four times a week.” 

Camille Cheng  

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Photo Courtesy of Camille Cheng

Name: Camille Cheng
Sport: Swimming
Country: Hong Kong
Olympic Year: 2016

Morning Routine: “My alarm typically goes off at 5:10am and I grab a quick bar to eat on my 8-minute walk to the pool. I can't eat too much before morning practice otherwise I feel too heavy and uncomfortable in the water. I help set up the pool and I’m in the locker room stretching and foam rolling by 5:40am. I swim from 6:00-7:45am and what we do in practice depends on the day of the week which typically follows this structure: warm up, a combination of kick, pull or drill sets, a main effort either aerobic training or centred around racing, and then cool down. After practice I head home and make a big breakfast: usually an egg scramble (eggs, mushrooms, spinach, ham, cheese) with toast and a bowl of yoghurt with fruit (bananas, strawberries and blueberries) I either have chocolate milk or orange juice. Before my next practice, I take between an hour and a half to two-hour nap. I then usually have a small snack before afternoon practice which is from 1:00-3:30pm.”

Motivational Tip: “I think the most important thing I've learned is to listen to my body and what it needs whether it's regarding nutrition or recovery. If I'm feeling tired or sore, I make sure to take a longer nap, get a good night’s sleep, do lots of stretching, get a massage, take an ice bath and make sure I keep note of what and how much I've eaten. I also think it's healthy to explore different foods and diversify my diet so I'm not just eating the same thing all the time.”

Camille is an ambassador of Harvest Sky

 Kenneth Cheng

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Photo Courtesy of Kenneth Cheung

Name: Kenneth Cheng
Sport: Equestrian Showjumping
Team: Hong Kong
Olympic Year: 2008

Morning Routine: “When I’m in Beijing I try to wake up at 5:30am every morning, especially during the summer season when it can get very hot during in Beijing. This ensures that I have a few hours of cool weather so I can exercise the horses properly before my day begins. I go to sleep with a cup of warm water beside the bed and drink it first thing in the morning to ensure that I start my day off hydrated. It can get dry in Beijing so it’s important to drink water as much as possible throughout the day. I get dressed right after drinking the glass of water and head towards the stable where I pick up some soya bean milk and dumplings for breakfast! I’m usually done with riding in the morning depending on the workload which means I can spend some free time in the afternoon to work on myself. This usually involves an hour or two in the gym plus some laps in the pool. I’m travelling a lot between Beijing and Belgium at the moment and if I’m in Belgium my day starts off at 6-6:30am in the morning - the rest of my routine stays pretty similar.”

Motivational Tip: “Waking up early in the morning helps me stay focused and motivated with my riding because being punctual goes a long way in our sport.”

 Hayley Chan

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Photo Courtesy of Hayley Chan

Name: Hayley Chan
Sport: Windsurfing
Team: Hong Kong
Olympic Year: 2012

Morning Routine: “On race days I wake up, at 7:30am and do 30min of easy stretches and some yoga. Then I munch on a bowl of oats in milk mixed with all sorts of nuts and dried berries followed by a nice cup of tea with honey. I finish breakfast with a light stomach so I can go for a nap before carrying out the rest of my race preparations. I drink lots of water throughout the day, so I always have a bottle with me. For training, I have times when I'm less strict with my routine, and just feed my body what it needs -- that usually means sleeping more, skipping the yoga and going out for a walk, or having butter on toast instead of oats. It allows me to listen to my body and be creative. I enjoy doing body weight exercises like TRX and power yoga, as well as lifting weights in the gym. I love mountain biking, trail running and paddling too.

Motivational Tip: “Be moderate in what you eat, and just go out and enjoy nature! There are lovely hikes everywhere in Hong Kong and nothing's further than 2 hours away so there is no excuse!”

 Tal Moriah

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Photo Courtesy of Tal Moriah

 Name: Tal Moriah
Sport: Taekwondo
Team: USA
Olympic Year: 2008

Morning routine: “I wake up at 6am for my morning workout and have a small meal of either fruit, a protein bar, or small sandwich to keep my metabolism going while I train. My workout usually runs from 6:45-8am. From 8-8:20am I stay at the gym and stretch out more to help with my other workouts throughout the day and prevent injuries. After that, I return home, shower, and begin my morning prayers. I pray for 20-30 minutes for the blessings in my life and the opportunities I have been provided for me to do my best. After that, I have breakfast which includes a balance of protein and carbs, hydrate well, and start my day.”

Motivational Tip: “Every day I remind myself that today is a new day for greatness, an opportunity to do my very best and make myself and the world better.”


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