Dr. Ara Suppiah
I was born in a small Malaysian town called Klang. Both of my parents were teachers, so they taught me the importance of education early on.
I lost my dad in a car accident at age five. That day I began to attempt the impossible … filling my dad’s enormous shoes as the man of the house. I felt a responsibility to make life easier for our family.
I aced school to please my mum, but my real passion was sports. I loved them all, but gravitated to tennis early on. By age nine I was winning tournaments. I would have turned pro if my height hadn’t gotten in the way! As it turned out, there were other incredible challenges and opportunities in my future.
MOVE TO ENGLAND FOR UNIVERSITY
One of those challenges and opportunities came at just 17 years old when I won a merit-based scholarship from the British Government to study medicine at Liverpool University Medical School in England.
Before I knew it, I was living in a country with bland food and gray skies. I did not know a soul. My first year was tough. I missed my mum and my life in Malaysia. Everyone was taller and smarter than me.
And … I was broke. You see, my scholarship only covered tuition and I needed to handle my own living expenses. Many days I survived on a packet of chips. I literally waited to eat until water could no longer keep my hunger at bay. I kept getting colds. I was not a happy camper.
A CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE
My life transformed when I changed the lens through which I saw the world and began embracing my new reality. I made the conscious decision to stop focusing on the negative and hunkered down with hard work. I scrubbed floors, stocked freezers and flipped burgers … all with an eye on graduation day – July 21st, 1995.
When I wasn’t working, I practically lived at the hospital library. It was warmer than my cold room and provided me with books I couldn’t afford. Sometimes I even slept there! I became so close to Betty the librarian that when my mom couldn’t make it to graduation, Betty was my guest.
That medical degree meant the world to me, but more than a medical degree, I’d received a degree in life.
I often tell people that I was born in Malaysia, but grew up in England. It was there that I learned how to accept the good with the bad, work harder than I knew possible and never give up.
Never ever give up. I learned that the quality of my life was entirely in my hands. I was creating my own destiny. That became the guiding principle for my life – live life on your own terms.
ARA, MEET GOLF. GOLF, MEET ARA.
After a year of internship, I entered a three-year training program in Surgery. There I was exposed to Emergency Medicine and immediately knew it was for me. So, after completing my training in Surgery, I trained in Emergency Medicine.
During my one of my shifts, a patients question changed the course of my life. A young tennis player with a sprained ankle asked me “How soon can I play tennis again?”. Despite all my training I realized I had no idea how to advise him. That lead me to studying Sports Medicine. I had taken up golf and really explored the mechanics of the sport, golfing injuries and, eventually in 2002, I worked with European Tour golfers and the winning European Ryder Cup team. Since then Ive trained in Functional medicine and Acupuncture all with one intention – help my athletes compete.
On March 31st 2014 the golf world was lit ablaze with the news that’s Tiger Woods underwent back surgery and the Golf channel needed someone to explain his situation.
On April 3rd 2014, I walked through the turnstiles of The Golf Channel for the very first time. I had no idea what to expect, nor in my wildest dreams expected that appliance to pave the path to becoming a regular contributor. The cameras and I had an instant connection. I was able to be myself in their presence with them and they in turn reminded me that being on TV is a huge blessing, but an even bigger responsibility.
Every appearance has one singular aim – I care that the audience remember my message rather than my name.
APRIL 29TH 2016
When I was 3 years old, I mentioned to my mother that when I grew up I wanted to be an American, because I wanted to “the American Neil Armstrong” who walked on the moon. I guess subconsciously, I have driven to fullfill the desire.
On April 29th 2016, I became an American citizen. Frankly, it has yet to sink in – the process tests your resolve to see if you really do want to become an American. And the ceremony is one I wish every native American could partake in. Total strangers from all walk of life in a room, singing the Star Spangled Banner, many with tears streaming down their faces that wore huge smiles – smiles of relief, gratitude and mostly pride.
Later that year, I helped Captain Davis Love and the Team USA win back the Ryder Cup. As an American, it was my way of giving something back to this great nation of ours.
MY LIFE TODAY
I share my story to reveal this critical point: Given my history, I was never the most likely person to achieve success. In fact, when I decided to apply for residency training in the US, I received 352 rejections for an interview. 352 rejections over the course of 6 years! But I just kept trying. I knew I wanted to live in the US and I did not give up! Eventually, a very special American doctor took a chance on me and I now get to call America home.
Today, I’m blessed to wear many hats – an ER physician, a lecturer at UCF Medical School, a TV medical analyst, a personal physician for many of the top athletes on the planet, team physician to the US Ryder Cup team, a speaker, an author and a consultant to many innovative and exciting companies. I have met presidents and my childhood heroes. I am humbled by the extraordinary opportunities I’ve been afforded and indebted to those who helped along the way. These responsibilities are governed by the guiding words of CNN’s Doctor Sanjay Gupta – never compromise your integrity.
I designed this site to serve as a platform for unbiased opinions on all things related to sport performance. I have spent the last 15 years studying the effects and ways to mitigate the effects of chronic inflammation in athletes. Along the way I have come across many things that apparently work, others that don’t work and conflicting advice. I had to decipher through this information to provide concrete robust advice to my athletes.
At this point in my career, I wish to share 20 years for wisdom from the trenches with you. I will bring you the latest in relevant research and share my insider’s perspective on breaking news.
I look forward to serving you, just as you have all served me, my entire career. I’d love to meet you virtually or in person (but not in the ER!). Until then, be well … and go live life on your terms!