He was prepared to sacrifice this year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games to do well when the biennial event comes to Singapore in 2015. But, in the end, everything just seemed to fall into place for Mok Ying Ren as he defied the odds to claim a place in Singapore's sporting history.
The 25-year-old became the first Singapore man to win a SEA Games marathon gold medal, clocking 2hr 28min 35sec in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on Dec 16.
The doctor, who is training to be a medical officer as part of his national service, was not in the best shape when he landed in Myanmar a day before the big race.
"It was very crazy," recalled Mok about the 42.195km race.
"I enlisted two weeks ago after the Standard Chartered Marathon (on Dec 1) and, while my instructors have been very understanding, it was very tough overall.
"I strained my hip during a casualty evacuation drill and developed a cough three days before my race.
"When I saw the rolling hills on the course, I knew it was not going to be easy because I usually look for flat marathons to take part in to go for fast times."
With all three medallists from the 2011 Games also taking part, it certainly was no easy feat for Mok, who won a triathlon gold at the 2009 SEA Games.