The Lady Boss

24 Feb 2020 / 11:13 H.

SHE wears many hats, that of a mother of three, a wife, an open water swimmer, and a teacher, to name a few. Most know her as the Cuddly Boss Lady, but I know her as Angelia Ong.

We have not met up in a while, so we caught up at a restaurant called The Queen @ Shanghai Night at IPC Shopping Centre, Mutiara Damansara. The name of the restaurant was a happy coincidence.

The Queen @ Shanghai Night offers a range of halal Chinese dishes ranging from dim sum to steamed rice sets. Its speciality: fried carrot cake and steamed buns.

According to the restaurant’s proprietor, the carrot cakes are made of pure carrots, so while they don’t keep, they are some of the best-tasting fried carrot cakes around. We concur.

The proprietor further explained the characteristics of a high quality steamed bun, such as having a split top if it is a savoury meat-filled bun. The steamed buns were not sticky, thanks to a special flour and preparation. They were some of the best steamed buns I have ever tried.

Fried carrot cake and steamed bun are a great a conversation starter, but what we were there for was lunch. We both ordered steamed chicken with rice and double-boiled soup, hers with char choy (pickled mustard root), and mine with mushrooms.

The set was satisfying, but not as impressive as the restaurant’s star dishes. Especially when you consider the price tag of almost RM30 before tax.

For drinks, I had one of the restaurant’s unique vinegar concoctions, and Angelia ordered a smoothie.

The iced camomile and spiced apple drink was novel, but did not deliver the expectations of its relatively high price tag. Angelia’s banana, berries, yogurt, and milk smoothie, however, was cartoonishly large.

Angelia comes from a family of swimmers. She is the sister of national swimmers Jeffrey Ong and Katerina Ong, and junior nationals swimmer Steven Ong. And naturally, Angelia herself is also a

former national swimmer.

On top of that, Angelia teaches, coaches, and is on the masters and open water swimming technical committees under the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM).

She is also an ambassador for the brands FINIS and Real Real Outplay.

As we ate, we talked about how one would even embark on competitive swimming like triathlons or relays, let alone open water swimming.

“There have always been adults learning to swim, but training for competition, that was uncommon.

As triathlons become more popular, groups start to pop up. It usually starts with someone knowing someone, who knows someone,” says Angelia.

Of course, over the last several decades, a lot has changed in swimming. With new and increased understanding comes new technology and new techniques.

Angelia explained: “I don’t know if it’s the parent’s approach or a reflection of a different generation, but the amount of work and dedication that kids would invest in training has changed.

“If you think about it, if you are doing distance or open water, the amount of training you need to do is a lot. The amount of mental strength and physical training is a lot. So they are less inclined to do it.

“Some of it is because they want instant results. Some kids are late bloomers, some kids take a bit longer.”

To encourage more kids to join open water swimming, ASUM held the first Malaysia Open Water Championship last year, in April. The second championship will take place this June in Labuan.

For Angelia, transitioning from the pool to open waters was a natural one. She grew up in Penang, where she would swim in the sea anyway. So it is not such a shock for her. Although nowadays, there are too many jellyfish in the waters of Penang for it to be safe.

She said: “During our off-seasons [back in the day], we used to run by the sea, kayak, and swim in the sea. We knew when the safe seasons were. I did the Penang channel swim when I was younger. Not many people got stung.

“Now, you just step out, and it happens.”

The cause of the increase in jellyfish population, she noted, is pollution.

In October last year, Angelia participated in the 16km Perhentian Round Island Fund Raining Swim, raising over RM6,500 for the National Cancer Society of Malaysia.

She also nabbed the second place for women overall, first place for Malaysian women, and was the fastest Malaysian women with a time of 4 hours and 37 minutes.

She will once again swim for charity later this year, in a relay. For more details, follow her on Instagram at @cuddlybosslady and on Facebook at CBLSports.

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