Ahmad Taufiq Muhammad has a can-do spirit that gives him the strength to excel in strongman competitions and his work.
TEXT: AUDRINA GAN
PHOTOGRAPHY: VERNON WONG
ART DIRECTION: FISH CHAN
STYLING: DEBBY KWONG
When he was 10, Ahmad Taufiq Muhammad was fascinated by how Icelandic strongman Magnus Ver Magnusson lifted stones and pulled a plane and a fire truck. Fourteen years later, CPL (NS) Taufiq won the 2005 HomeTeamNS Strongman Challenge.The 36-year-old Public Shelter Company Section Commander from 101B Public Shelter Company has not turned back since.
The founder and technical director of the Singapore Strongman Series, which runs competitions at the novice and amateur levels, has competed in countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Africa and Australia.
With a Masters of Science in counselling psychology, specialising in family and youth work, CPL (NS) Taufiq has also been working closely with children, at-risk young people and their families on preventive and rehabilitative programmes since 2003. He currently works with an agency that conducts talks, counselling events and seminars on positive parenting.
Can you share some memorable experiences from your competitions?
I’m thankful to HomeTeamNS for giving me the start that paved my way to bigger competitions. In 2005, I won four out of five events in the Club’s competition. It was also memorable because my uncle passed away that morning. My aunt told me to go and make sure I won – my late uncle had always supported my sporting pursuits. After finishing the last event, I bawled my eyes out. The Arnold Strongman Classic in South Africa is the epitome of Strongman competitions. You have to qualify to compete. I had aimed to finish top 10 in a very strong field of Southern Hemisphere athletes. In the first event, I broke one of my fingers but refused to quit. I finished 10th, with a broken finger, torn bicep, torn hamstring and torn calf.
How do you manage Strongman competitions while working full-time in the social service?
I’m a stubborn mule and don’t know when to tell myself enough is enough. Success to me is not defined by how much you earn or how high you are on the corporate ladder. There is always a need for people like me to do things that nobody wants to do. I know a lot of people like me who do not fit the mainstream mould. I have days that are really draining, when after a counselling session I just want to hide and not have any human contact.
Work is rather stressful but I have training to look forward to. Training and giving back to the sport makes me happy, while my job as a family therapist helps to pay the bills. I enjoy doing both.
What keeps you motivated?
What keeps me going is having a purpose in life. I take pride in what I do, be it working with families, clients or competing in Strongman challenges. When I don’t do well, I am my own harshest critic. I constantly challenge myself with the question:
What can I do to be better?
In my most recent competition, the Static Monsters in Gold Coast, Australia, I was frustrated and annoyed with myself for making mistakes that cost me a podium finish and a qualification spot at the 2018 World Championships. But the good thing about Strongman competitions is that you never lose; you either win or you learn.
How has your NS experience helped define who you are today?
NS gave me a direction on what to do with my life. I knew I wanted to do social work. During my NS days, I took night classes to get certifications to get to where I wanted to be. You need to know what you want to do, and NS helped give me the ability to plan ahead.
2 Fun Facts about Taufiq
As part of his training fitness regime, he has to eat 8 meals a day!
His preferred indulgence on cheat days is salted caramel ice cream on waffles.