He finished fourth at the Singapore SEA Games nearly two years ago, and thought then that he could not top that performance.
Yet, Clement Chow decided to give it another shot when the selection race for August's Games was announced last year, though he knew that it would be difficult to fit training around his work schedule.
His decision paid off yesterday, when he managed to qualify for the biennial Games again, after winning the qualifiers conducted by the Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS) along East Coast Park.
The 28-year-old clocked 2hr 3sec, ahead of Wille Loo (2:00:07) in the men's qualifiers. In the women's competition, Winona Howe finished first in 2:14:24, ahead of Denise Chia (2:15:15).
The top two male and female finishers cleared the qualifying times for the SEA Games (2:07:01 for men and 2:22:08 for women), and will be nominated by the TAS to the Singapore National Olympic Council for approval to be selected for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
Besides Chow, Loo, 33, and Howe, 22, also featured at the previous Games. Loo earned Singapore's only triathlon medal then by bagging a bronze.
Chia, 20, was in the 2014 Youth Olympics, and will be making her SEA Games debut if selected.
Chow, who is an auditor at Deloitte Singapore, said that he is now aiming for a podium finish in Malaysia. The self-coached triathlete said: "It was tough to finish fourth at the last Games. I felt like I still had unfinished business.
"Now that I have qualified, I'm going to put everything into preparing well for the Games, and stop missing my workouts."
After about a year of inactivity, Chow started his engine again last September, but admitted he struggled to juggle work and training.
He said: "I don't like to run in the morning, but now I have to run at 5am before I go to work. I don't like to swim alone and cycle indoors, but I have to change my workouts."
For Howe, she also went through a change - when she moved from China to Perth last November to join the Exceed Triathlon Club. Previously, she was based in Jinan and Weihai in China for over a year.
She has benefited from her stint in Australia, saying: "Previously when I was in China, I was training with a group of teenagers who are aged between 13 and 17 and I was the oldest among them.
"But in Australia, I was really being pushed all the time (on bike) because they were going much faster than what I was used to."
She is looking to redeem herself from a forgettable showing at the 2015 Games, where she was eliminated from the race because she crashed during the cycling leg. As a result, she was lapped in one of the later laps.
Howe said: "I felt that I made too many mistakes then. I'm going to work more on my skills and tactics. I really need to work on my swim."