Beyond the road - Natalie Wong
Beyond the road - Natalie WongWords & Images: Natalie Wong
You'll often find Natalie down at the local running track, behind the camera doing what she does best. We recently checked in with her to learn more about her story and her passion for capturing the spirit of the athletes around her.
"When I was small, I was never considered the smart one at school. I didn’t like to read, study, or write. I was never the fast and talented one amongst others. I was always behind everyone else.
I have been running since I was 7 and enjoyed cross country during my school years. In the recent years, I was introduced to track training, ultra-trail running and road racing. In 2020, I had huge breakthroughs, from breaking a sub20min 5k to running a few big ultras (Backyard ultra 100k, Stromlo 50, UTA50, Six Foot 45km). But later in 2021, I seemed to hit a wall, suffered 3 injuries and struggled to get consistent training.
But this was when I questioned meaning of my running and viewed this sport from a different perspective. We all know how good running is. We have all heard about those life-changing transformations, crazy training, and performance breakthroughs. But nobody really talks about the other side.
Running, like any other sport, can be destructive when the purpose is not in the right place. When you place your values on achievements and medals. When you get fed on the appraisal and approval from others. When you let numbers and records define your worth and success. When you become obsessed with your performance. And when you let sport define your identity and consume you.
Sport can make us become self-obsessive. The constant comparisons with others and fear of others’ perception of you and your achievements. We can’t help but feel dissatisfied with our imperfectness – our body, our work, our performances. Always far behind from who we want to be. Always trying to prove ourselves and others of what we can do.
Medals and records are glorified at one moment, personal records can never be satisfied our hunger for faster and longer.
But for me, I know my purpose and identity is in Christ. I do not need to be the fastest or smartest, nor do I need to be popular and do ‘big’ things to be accepted. I am loved and saved just as I am – through faith by grace – this is the gift of God.
My running means nothing if it is just for chasing after my own goals. My talents mean nothing if it is only to satisfy my desires. My photography means nothing if it is only to win appraisal, to gain fame or to strive for perfectness. Without the love for what I do and for the athletes, all I say and do becomes meaningless. But what really can last are the relationship and connection I form with people - how I can encourage and build up the athletes through my photography.
Each athlete needs to be supported, recognised, and loved. Each character is unique, and there are many stories out there waiting to be shared and to inspire others. It all begins with someone who say yes. My photography has allowed me to act and illustrate that. And this is what Beyond the Road is about."
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