By the time Oscar Coggins had completed his A-levels, he’d already competed in 27 international triathlons, won two Junior Asian Championships, and qualified for the 2018 Asian Games. And he did all that without missing a single training session, even during exams period.
Not just a top athlete but a top student as well, Coggins aced his exams and earned a spot in the engineering programme at Loughborough University – a placement he has since deferred for a gap year of triathlons. His goal? To pick up as many points as he can during the qualifying period and represent Hong Kong at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“Hong Kong has basically been my only home all my life,” he says. “I’m immensely proud to represent Hong Kong and to have experienced a huge portion of my athletic development here.”
Now barely 20 years old, Coggins entered the world of triathlon at 13, mainly due to his mother’s support and encouragement. In just two years, he would make the under-20 Hong Kong National Team and place second at the 2015 Hong Kong National Championships.
Coggins credits his steady success to his parents and to his coach, Andrew Wright – a fellow athlete and former Hong Kong triathlon hero. “I think he’s managed my development very well: I’ve consistently improved, had no major injuries and am more invested in the sport than ever,” Coggins says.
The one blemish on his career to date is a bureaucratic one. In 2018, Coggins missed out on the 2018 Asian Games – which he and his team had worked so hard to qualify for – because his change in nationality from British to Hong Kong was not yet finalised.
It was a huge disappointment that he handled like a champ. “Poor results are inevitable in triathlon and a huge amount of time and effort are invested in every race. So, when you fall short of your goals, it can sometimes be difficult to pick yourself up and do it all again.”
True to form, Coggins followed up the bureaucratic snafu by competing in – and winning – the 2018 Asia Cup in Almaty, Kazakhstan, securing his first senior title while still technically a junior athlete.
Coggins is now fully into the 2019 triathlon circuit: competing in races, heading to training camps in Australia and Switzerland, and training three times a day.
So far, he’s been posting strong and consistent results. Fifty-fifth in the ITU rankings and second on the Asian continent at the time of our interview, he should be well on his way to an Olympic qualifying slot.
“I aim to be strong enough that if other athletes see my name on the start list, they know it will be a hard race,” says Coggins. “Not be unbeatable, but just to force everyone to fight for every inch with no respite.”
As for his best piece of advice?
“Invest in what you’re passionate about. Giving it your best shot and failing is better than a lifetime of wondering what could have been.”
Jacket and jeans: The Kooples | Shirt and shoes: Coggin’s own | Watch: Richard Mille RM 25-01 Tourbillon Adventure Sylvester Stallone | Location: Rosewood Hong Kong