A self-confessed ‘slow starter’ in athletics, accomplished runner Maggie Kim now wants to inspire others to take up sports, saying that it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle

AFTER Maggie Kim Hong Goh gave birth to her second child at 34, she started to put on the pounds. She was at a mall in Jakarta when she realised she had to do something about her weight gain.

She noticed that women at the mall were mostly trim and fit.

“On the same day, I searched for my sneakers, and walked on the treadmill,” the 56-year-old said.

Kim then started running and she saw a startling difference in her physique after just four months.

“I lost 12.5kg. I was 35. It was remarkable,” she said.

Family members started to notice the change too. This spurred her to exercise more, even during festivities or on holidays.

“I would continue to run for one hour. It’s a fantastic feeling,” she said.

Kim has completed six world marathon majors – the London and Boston marathons (2008), Tokyo and Chicago (2014), and the Berlin and New York marathons in 2015. It is a rare feat, even among ardent marathon runners.

A double operation on her knees due to osteoporosis did not stop her from running in the Berlin and New York marathons in 2015.

“I challenged myself after joining several races and long runs. I wanted to complete three marathons back-to-back in three weeks in three continents. I was 44 then. It was an exciting time for me,” she said.

Kim said there are no shortcuts to excel in a sport that has since become part of her life.

“To do well in a marathon, you must train. I’m crazy. I wake up at 4am and do my long run. It’s also important to be healthy. I would rest for one day in a week,” she said.

Aside from running, she also swims and cycles to keep her muscles toned. At only five feet, Kim has to work harder to maintain her weight through a regiment that she created.

Kim was never a natural athlete. Describing her journey as “unusual and surprising”, she said it was never her intention to become an athlete.

“As a child, I was never active in any sports, and in my 20s, I’d represent my company at bowling but not athletics,” she said.

To that end, the mother of two intends to empower women through sports, seeing the rise of obesity in the country.

“I feel that by contributing through sports, I am able to inspire the community. I was also once overweight, so why not promote running as a way of life?

“It’s important to maintain our health, especially for women, because at a certain age, we are prone to high blood pressure and high sugar level due to the hectic lifestyle that we lead.”

On what motivates her, Kim holds up her medals.

“I never give up. If I set a target, I’ll go for it. If I want to win a certain placing, I’ll train for it.”