Cycling to the top

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam cycling star Luqman bin Hadzid’s interest in sports began in swimming before he made the switch to cycling, and embarked on an eventful journey both domestically and internationally. He has not looked back since.

He had taken up athletics but later figured out that the sport did not suit him and found his true calling in cycling.

“I joined cycling in 2010 and before that I was a swimmer for 15 years. I switched to athletics as I wanted to try something new and, after a year, I found out athletics was not for me,” said Luqman in an interview with the Bulletin.

The idea of being involved in cycling was first mooted when a former national coach who originated from Malaysia Yafiz Jamaludin suggested that he take up the sport.

“I gave it a shot when my coach offered me to join the sport in 2010,” said Luqman. “My first local event was also in the same year and I won my first race which kept me motivated.”

Luqman bin Hadzid at a cycling event. PHOTO: NORAQILAH BAHAR

“My first international cycling event was in a tour race in Malaysia which I didn’t do very well in. But, I didn’t give up, kept going and learnt from my mistakes,” he added.

“I attended a training camp in Korea and joined both local and international races including Borneo which has kept me motivated to join cycling until now.”

Luqman’s former coach has played a pivotal role in his development as a cyclist, where he enjoyed some success in the regional scene, most notably with podium finishes in the OCBC Cycle in Singapore.

“When I first joined the team, Yafiz taught me a lot and he also motivated me. He looks after all the cyclists, not just me. He was our mentor. He gave me the chance to be a good rider.”

In his early days of competition, Luqman had already gained experience in triathlons where he competed in the multi-disciplinary field of swimming, running and cycling.

Though he was not originally interested in cycling, he has already established the basics of the discipline.

“I won the first triathlon back then and from there I already knew how to cycle. But at that time, I was not into cycling.”

“I found that cycling is fun, you are free to go wherever you want and you can have a weekend ride with your friends. It is more about passion.”

The 28-year-old shared that the country has cyclists with good potential, adding that there is a need to develop junior cyclists to pave the way for the new generation.

Luqman, who has represented the country at an international level said, “For me, I can stop anytime but we need to develop more junior cyclists to replace us.”

The cyclist has won numerous races in the local circuit but a competition in Singapore, which drew competitors from the region, proved to be one of his career highlights.

“It was a good experience in the OCBC Cycle. It was a short race but it was a good experience as a sprinter. It is a short course in a five-kilometre race. It’s all about strategy and Yafiz prepared us well for it.”

The coach has ensured that the cyclists played their roles as well as their positioning in the team during the team race.

Luqman’s journey in competitive cycling also took him as far as the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan where he gained valuable experience as part of the Astana Pro Cycling Team in the mid-2010s.

Luqman is open to the idea of joining a competition overseas, but not without caveat that it is not easy to deal with as he does not cycle on a full-time basis. “I have my own career so my training is also limited.”

The cycling star usually trains two to three hours during a weekday and more than four hours during the weekend.

He currently rides for local-based Wakanda Cycling Team, which enjoyed top honours during the Kota Kinabalu Century Race last year.

“We have more than 10 riders in the team and we also have potential young junior cyclists,” he added.