Being Born With Only One Arm Didn’t Stop This Guy From Becoming A Spartan

Meet CK Loh, the one-armed athlete.

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Being Born With Only One Arm Didn’t Stop This Guy From Becoming A Spartan
Image: Reebok Malaysia
How often have you told yourself: ‘I can’t do it’?

Whether it’s passing an insanely-difficult paper, completing a major 10,000-word thesis, nailing a work task you were assigned to, or just dealing with life in general, sometimes we have this urge to give up.

Well, if you ever feel the lack of confidence in life, take a few tips from this guy.

Meet Loh Chee Khoon, better known as CK Loh, the one-armed athlete.

As a child born with a rather unusual physical disability, his parents showered him with plenty of love and care, and restricted him from doing any physical activities that would put a strain on his body. 

CK’s mother used to joke with him how he accidentally left an arm behind in her belly when he was born.
The good thing about this is, CK didn’t have to do any house chores since he was young, something every other kid would probably envy.

But the bad thing is, as a kid, he wasn’t active because he wasn’t allowed to participate in any sporting activities.
The only thing he could do during Pendidikan Jasmani lessons was watch in envy as his fellow classmates play in the sun. Occasionally, he would join his female classmates when they play badminton and that’s about the only sport he could play at the time.
Although CK attended a regular public school and wore a prosthetic arm all the time, he knew he was different. Being harassed by school bullies made him hide from the crowd even more. However, the discrimination he had to endure in school fueled his determination to study hard and excel in his grades.
After graduating high school, CK decided to make the big leap to move to Kuala Lumpur alone to further his studies, a step that undoubtedly made his parents worried sick.

But he told them that he had to do it.
“I just told them that I wanted to be independent and learn how to take care of myself. I didn’t want to always rely on them,” said the Ipoh lad.

However, living alone in KL was a big culture shock for CK.

Apart from juggling his classes and assignments, CK had to settle his own laundry, cooking, cleaning and errands. Doing all this while trying to balance a 4kg prosthetic arm at the same time became too uncomfortable and inconvenient for him.

So after several months into his degree, he told himself that it was time for another big change in his life.

CK decided to remove his prosthetic arm for good.
Although it was tough trying to ignore people’s stares in the first few weeks of going out in public without his prosthetic arm, he finally felt free.

He eventually graduated with a degree and started working as a software designer in the city.

So how did CK become an athlete?

When he started his day job, CK gained a lot of weight due to stress from work to the point of being overweight.

His self-esteem went down the drain due to his physical appearance and unhealthy lifestyle. He couldn’t even bear to look at himself in the mirror, he told Rojak Daily when we met up with him over lunch.
“I felt so ugly. I lost my confidence again. And I didn’t even bother shopping for new clothes to celebrate Chinese New Year.”
Things began to turn around when a former colleague urged CK to sign up for a gym membership.

At first, he didn’t think exercising would be his thing because he was never active as a child. So he decided to just give it a try and start with a three-month membership.

Little did CK know that this short-term trial would change his life forever.

CK lost almost 30kg after going to the gym for three months and this drastic improvement helped him regain his confidence.

He continued performing exercises that his body is capable of, such as running, cardio, body combat and high intensity aerobics. 

Tired of just working out at the gym, CK decided to challenge himself by signing up for marathons.

One thing led to another and CK started accummulating running medals.

In 2012, he completed his first ever 10km run at the Nike We Run KL and he has never looked back since.

He also got the chance to fly to Gold Coast, Australia to run a full marathon for the first time in 2013. In case you didn’t know, that’s 42km!

CK has participated in several international marathons since then, travelling to Australia, Macao, Hong Kong, Phuket, and many more.

Not only that, he ran and completed 70km ultra marathons on two separate occasions.

To put that into perspective, it’s pretty much like running from KLCC to Seremban!
After months of regular running and cardio workouts, he wanted to take his fitness one step further and started weight training.

Mind you, lifting dumbbells and kettlebells with both arms is no easy feat, let alone with only one arm. So you can imagine how much strength and balance it took for CK to do this.

One year later, CK did the craziest thing.

He signed himself up for an obstacle race event: the Reebok One Challenge.

The organisers were just as surprised as the people around CK for his courage and determination in joining a race with, well, many obstacles!
"I just wanted to break my own record. Since I’ve tried everything else, I wanted to do something new, running 21km with obstacles,” said CK, who also happens to be Reebok’s brand ambassador.

From monkey bars to wall climbing, the obstacle race was not just any ordinary race, especially for CK.

He realised that somebody who has the stamina to run marathons may not necessarily have the same strength to complete an obstacle race. Hence, he stressed that teamwork is extremely important in an event like this.

However, teamwork isn’t something familiar to CK, though.

“I felt like I was finally accepted by the public because I’ve never worked together with anyone before,” he shared.

He has always worked on assignments and projects alone, whether in college or at work.
But teamwork is something you need in an obstacle race, and it was the one thing that got him hooked.

#FitSpiration team are READY!! I can do it, we can do it!! This is SPARTAAAAAAAAN! 💪💪💪#spartantace #spartanracemy #spartanracemalaysia

A post shared by 🇲🇾One-armed Runner - CK LOH🇲🇾 (@ckloh1989) on

When one of the world’s most intense obstacle races, the dreaded Spartan Race, first hit Malaysian shores in 2015, CK registered in a heartbeat.

His fighting spirit earned him a Spartan Trifecta medal after completing the Sprint, Super and Beast events, which consist of over 40km and more than 70 obstacles altogether!
One of CK’s most unforgettable moments came when he was chosen to participate in the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships in Lake Tahoe, USA last year.

Dubbed the most difficult race among the Spartan series, the race consisted of over 30 obstacles spread out in a distance of 21km and an elevation of over 2,700 meters.

To top it all off, it was also snowing along the way!


“When it started snowing, I thought I wasn’t going to make it. But I just told myself to stay focused. In the end, I proved to everyone and myself that I was able to complete the race,” he beamed.

Despite having completed the Spartan Trifecta and World Championships, CK didn’t stop there.

He continued to join other obstacle races, including the most recent Spartan Sprint held last month in Malaysia. 


Moving Forward is my ONLY choice. 💪💪 #BeMoreHuman #Reebok #ReebokMalaysia #SpartanRace #spartanracemy #ReebokSpartanRace #ReebokAmbassador

A post shared by 🇲🇾One-armed Runner - CK LOH🇲🇾 (@ckloh1989) on

“Fitness has become a part of my life. It’s not just a hobby. It’s something that I have to do every day. No matter where I am, I have to do it at least once.”
CK’s next event is an 84km distance ultra marathon. Judging by the way he tackles life, it looks like nothing’s gonna stop this one-armed Spartan.

If there’s one thing we can take away from CK’s life, it is his strong willpower. His fighting spirit that knows no boundaries is something all of us could use in life.
So the next time you think you can’t do something, stop sulking for a moment and go check out CK’s Instagram profile or Facebook page.

You just might stop complaining about life.

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