Azza finishes 2nd in Malaysia Mountain Bike Race

|     James Kon     |

YOUNG Azza Zainal crossed the finish line second in the Prodigy Category of Kranky Kiara Enduro Mountain Bike Race Malaysia 2017 last Sunday.

Having competed in his first overseas race, the 15-year-old finished his race in 30 minutes 56 seconds despite falling off his bike on a slippery trail on top of a busted tyre.

The Jerudong International School student was filled with emotions as he expressed satisfaction on finishing second.

“I felt proud as it was my first ever international enduro race and that emotions came in as I didn’t know the trails very well and only had a day and a half of practice to memorise (the trail) before the main event.

“Second place meant a lot as I was the only Bruneian to finish on the podium. Before the race my friends from Brunei gave me some motivation. They said, ‘Come on Azza represent Brunei and go on the podium.’

“The position did not really matter as long as I could come back in one piece and finish the race in the top five position to gain that podium place,” Azza said.

Azza Zainal (2nd right) in a group photo with other racers of the competition. – JAMES KON

Recalling the race, Azza shared, “The biggest challenge I faced during the race was on SS1 (Stage 1) when I punctured my rear wheel at the rock section and had to replace the tube before SS2 (Stage 2). I also crashed in Stage 3 due to the slippery trails. I slipped with my bike and lost a few seconds or even a minute before getting back on the bike. Stage 5 was the most dangerous stage and the most challenging as it was the ‘Rockgarden Stage’ (Flintstone Stage).

“On the first day of practice, I crashed, bruised my thighs and twisted my thumb. The rocks were huge and the track was slippery. A lot of riders crashed there and I was lucky enough to have a fast and smooth ride on race day.

“Despite the age differences in the race, I still managed to finish in second place with the first place winner being a 17-year-old. Compared to others, I know the trail least against all the older boys. The three riders who were in third, fourth and fifth place were aged around 14, 16 and 17. My body size isn’t that big and I’m not tall. I could not have done this if it wasn’t for the support I received from my parents and friends,” the young rider said.

Azza admitted of his passion in the sport and is proud of what he can do.

“l personally love this sport although I find it dangerous and yet it is exciting as I don’t see many kids doing this and I have beaten some of the elite riders recently. I love jumping ramps and taking the drops. I can do stuff that other people cannot. It makes me feel special knowing I am one of the fast riders in Brunei. It shows that I am somebody in the forest every weekend and I am proud.”