How’d you get started with cycling?
I guess I got it from my mom. I was a very hyperactive kid, I was always the one running around, jumping around. One of the things about me when I was a child is that I was always on the bike. It started from there, which didn’t take me long to take off the supporting wheels. It all started when my brother started doing modifications on his own bike. We call it a drag bike, and we did that for a while, and after that he got into motorbiking. I was really interested, so I tagged along as well.
We had a really small club back in Dungun, which is called the Dungun Cycling Club. We were starting with really basic equipment early on, but because we had such passion in what we were doing, it felt like it wasn’t enough. Not long after, I remember that my coach brought us to KL, just to try racing in a velodrome. I didn’t even know what a velodrome was then. [laughs] We arrived in KL early one morning, and I borrowed someone’s bike, and we raced with some of the junior development national athletes, and I ended up winning the race. I was surprised, and there was a head coach there at that time who saw my potential, and it was the following year that brought me to Bukit Jalil Sport School under the Junior Elite Programme. So, my career as a cyclist started from there.
What makes track cycling special to you?
It’s all about adrenaline and speed. Adrenaline comes from the speed. Track cycling is all about speed. You go fast. Cause I’m a sprinter, and I sprint at about 70-80 kilometers per hour, on a bike that weighs from five to six kilograms, which is quite dangerous, but the enjoyment of that rush, I can’t describe that in words.
What was the greatest obstacle that you had to face?
I can say that I’m a really disciplined person when it comes to sports, not as much when it comes to discipline in life. When I was in my junior year, I went into one of the girl’s room. I got into a huge trouble and was kicked out from the Program. I had to stay outside, to be independent, as well as spending my own money. Eventually, I tried to get back up again. My shot for redemption came when I won one of the big games in KL, which is the Asian Championship, and made history by winning three gold medals and a silver. Because of that achievement, they gave me a second chance. The second chance wasn’t something that I wanted to throw away. Looking back, that was actually a monumental moment for me as a person. If it didn’t happen to me, I don’t think I’d be the person that I am today. It opened up my mind to think beyond the now.
So, you have two girls, how has being a dad impacted your life?
It’s a wonderful experience. It cannot be changed or be exchanged with anything. Being a parent, you’re pretty much on a very different level. I learned a lot of things, and that’s the greatest gift of all. It also teaches you about managing your life. You have to be balanced with your life. You always try to get some quality time to spend with the kids. Sometimes, when you come back home from a very intense training, it’s hard to not feel pain and weariness. But when you see the face of your child, it brightens up and you start to forget about all the hardships. Being a dad, you learn a lot about maturity as well. You grow as an individual. So yeah, those are the things that I’ve learned.