SAM Y.G. is a TV host, a radio DJ and a comic known for his quick, witty banter which - it turned out - is matched only by his need for speed, which he satisfies through car racing and triathlon.
SPIN.ph got to chat with the Filipino-Indian celebrity Samir Gogna (his real name) at the 2016 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships in Cebu where he did the swim part for the TRS Tri Team relay squad.
The 28-year-old Sam Y.G., which stands for ‘Young Gun,’ quickly showcased his sense of humor in turning a nasty jellyfish sting during a training swim on Saturday into an incident to laugh about.
“I didn’t pee on myself. I asked somebody else to pee on me!” said Sam, whose foray in multi-sport started in 2010 when he took up running. And things got serious quick for Sam after getting into the biking and swimming parts, as he was hooked with the unique challenge triathlon presents compared to just training to get buff in a gym.
“I got a coach for swimming. I got a bike. And before I knew it, I started training for a goal. It’s always training for something. Rather than going to the gym and just working out, I trained for a goal,” he said.
With triathlon, he found more than a goal but a challenge that even pushed him to his physical limits, citing a ‘crazy experience’ in a Subic race last July.
“It was all uphill. It was going up a mountain in a 60km bike ride, followed by a 10km run up a mountain again. Talagang parusa sa legs,” Sam recalled.
“Nagdadasal na [ako] kay God: ‘God, ano ito? Bakit ganito? Nakikipag-deal na [ako na] ‘Okay last na ito!’” he added.
While Sam finished that race, he obviously didn’t stop racing there. And out of his constant search for trying new things, he also got hooked on another sport that quenches his thirst for some adrenaline rush in a different, and much faster way.
He got into car racing via the Toyota Vios Cup in 2012, and he’s been a constant ever since due to the thrill it gives him both mentally and physically.
"In car racing, most people think it’s just about driving [but] there’s so much discipline that goes into it - taking the right corner at the right time. In a car, you’re in a fire-proof seat, with the windows up, in the middle of the heat, and you’re losing God knows [how many] amount of water,” he shared.
“You gotta get your mind in check even when you're nauseous. Understand your car, if your car is burning out, is the transmission okay? You gotta be one with your car,” he added. “Over and above, it’s the mental challenge. Sorry to say [this but] it’s a mind f*ck!”
Different as the racing disciplines he enjoys may be, Sam sees some similarities as well that explains why he’s passionate about both.
“Here [in triathlon] it’s just you and your body. You gotta understand your muscles. Are you burning yourself out too much? Are you doing the right pacing in the swim, bike and run or are you burning yourself out in the swim pa lang?” he said.
If a triathlete needs to listen intently to his body, race drivers must constantly check the hum of his car in a race, Sam Y.G. said.
“Car guys know all about engines and stuff like that. Triathlon complements that because your cardio gets up. It’s three different disciplines — you swim, when you get out of the water, you get on your bike, you use your quads and ease your upper body. When you get to the run, you use your hamstrings and calves,” he added.
But if there’s one thing that makes triathlon stand out for him, Sam says it’s the community triathletes build.
“Here is a different energy altogether. People are cheering for you. Here in Cebu the crowds are amazing. Even if they don’t know you they’re cheering for you,” he said. "In tri, everybody is friends with each other. It’s an overwhelming experience.”
“I suggest everybody should try it. There are sprint distances if you want to try and do it. You don’t have to buy those P500,000 bikes, you can borrow a bike from a friend. 'Yung pang mayaman siya is a misconception," he added.
At the end of it all, there is an important common denominator between racing cars and triathlons for Sam that keeps him going, despite his bargaining pleas in the middle of tough races.
“When you cross the finish line, whether it’s in a car or as a triathlete, the pain becomes worth it — the months of training, the sleepless nights, waking up early, not going out and missing your friends. When you cross the finish line, you realize it was all worth it,” he said.