The Ardent Athlete – Haziq Junaidy

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FLASHING HIS YOUTHFUL ENTHUSIASM

Where should we begin to depict Muhammad Haziq Junaidy?

Sometimes, we meet people who stand out in the best possible way. We meet people who go beyond good manners to make an incredible impression. Upon arriving at the meeting room, this guy in his early 20s greeted us with a twinkle in his eyes. Judging from his charmingly bronze skin tone, it was even fair to think that he must have been working his socks off on track.

When we think of an athlete, more than likely a well-developed muscular image comes to mind. When we make body composition decisions like how a multisport athlete should have, a lean, strong, and well-built figure is what we might initially envision. It is no surprise to perceive any of these traits from Haziq’s appearance.

It may also be a bit of a surprise to find that, behind the brightest smile, has concealed the blood, sweats, and tears from this 23-year-old duathlete/triathlete. His words, filled with awe, helped illustrate how far he has journeyed in multisport.

HIS TAKE ON MULTISPORT JOURNEY

The journey of Haziq who does the three-sport discipline of triathlon has not come easy. A triathlon is more than just swimming, biking, and running. To him, it is beyond a sport of combining the three disciplines into a whole, at the same time juggling between study, work, and passion.

Currently a university student, Haziq has just ventured into a multisport journey for two years. Looking at his physique, it seems impossible to visualize him being a 90kg boy two years ago. “I started running to help with my weight loss,” Haziq said. After completing a diploma program, he began to develop an interest in joining fun run events and collecting medals. “However, the first attempt was horrible as I was experiencing a problem with controlling my breathing,” he recalled.

Unfortunately, he got devastatingly injured from making his debut at a full marathon race caused by inadequate training, which led him to not being able to play sports for three months. Luckily, Haziq was hit with a perfect storm. After the recuperation, he decided to participate in at least an event every month, and that he will always expect the distance, and prepare for it to avoid any sport-related injuries.

And I naturally became a competitive athlete.

As he continued to achieve his running goals, he eventually decided on going further. The outset of duathlon started with a notification he received from Facebook, in regards to the registration of Powerman Asia Duathlon Championships back in 2015. “Without even thinking twice, I registered,” however, Haziq’s obstacle was getting a bicycle. In the end, he managed to borrow one from a friend, and surprisingly clinch a good result.

Although he has always been proficient in running, it is true that cycling is very technical in a multisport race. “I can master long-distance running. However, it is always challenging to borrow bicycles from my friends,” said the passionate athlete.

Then in August 2016, he embarked on his first triathlon event – Port Dickson International Triathlon in sprint category and was not satisfied with it. “When I finished my swim, I had to be drafting on the bike, which ended up not performing during the race,” Haziq indicated that joining non-drafting events could help him push harder.

There came the good news. Haziq attended a trial conducted by Team Time Triathlon where a number of elite athletes were in the team. The first trial was held in 2016. He scraped by in running but was disappointed after being told off that he had a bad timing at swimming. Accepting the fact that swimming was not his forte, he worked even harder for another year and got the second attempt at the trial. Luckily, hard work paid off. Haziq was granted a slot to train with the team starting in 2017.

“And that has become my favorite routine where I get to train alongside Jason Loh and Barry Lee. I still enjoy the routine very much now,” we could see happiness gleaming in his eyes.

HIS AIM AND AMBITION

Haziq knows that the driving force to reach any goal comes from a deep desire within. In early January, he went on a three-week triathlon training camp in Chiang Mai. One week before heading off, the off-season just ended. “The camp focused on building speed, and it was tough for me, albeit the altitude was an advantage to boost my stamina,” he uttered. Even though he is used to the weather in Malaysia, it is a benefit for him to also adapt to the colder climate.

In a triathlon event, if he is fast in swimming, there is a higher chance for him to be in the first group of biking. Otherwise, he would lose a lot of energy when riding alone. Haziq has constantly been doing three disciplines. He has also been participating in both duathlon and triathlon events, but after all, he prefers being called a duathlete. “I am more into duathlon as swimming is my weakest discipline. Therefore, I must alter a different training program,” said the impassionate guy.

In between his hectic schedule of coping with his study, work, and training, he has to sacrifice his time hanging out with his friends. “I just have to, I have to manage my time,” Haziq spoke. While he could have concentrated on his studies, the criticisms being thrown on him had kept him motivated to keep pursuing his multisport journey. He is certain that he has chosen the right path.

I was once provoked for not being able to do these sports due to my body size, and that hit me,

Since then, he kept on reminding himself that he could soar to greater heights.

Not only will I prove to those who have turned me down, I will also prove to myself that I can achieve more. I competed in Powerman Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines with the local athletes and each of which was a wonderful experience. We could learn from each other.

Haziq has been progressing fantastically well and doing much of his training with Team Time. However, his biggest challenge is the hard-hitting and time-consuming preparation before a race. He took 3 months to prepare for Powerman Malaysia 2018, and he is currently training hard for Powerman Philippines 2018.

The transition is relatively strenuous. Having made the switch from duathlon to triathlon or the other around, Haziq has always tried not to put so much stress on it. “With so much effort, money, and time I have put into this journey, I will give all the best of me. At the same time, I will enjoy the process,”

Long-distance races, indeed, require a strong mental attitude. The athlete suggested that it is ideal to train out of your comfort zone so that you get to stimulate improvement.

Take it easy. Beginners will never get more done by blindly following the professional athletes. Instead, they get more done when they put in accountability, hard work, plan, and time that build up confidence and bring to success.

Having accomplished so much at his age, Haziq believes that 2018 will be a year filled with exciting endeavors. He has so far been invited to several multisport events and training sessions. In the years ahead, he is aiming for Asian Games selection alongside other elite triathletes. Besides, he is setting his sights on Olympic distance triathlons.

“As I am still pursuing my Degree, my ambition is to become an athlete. I have a goal. Hopefully, I will be one of the representatives for Malaysia in SEA Games 2019,” the ardent athlete, flashing his youthful enthusiasm drew the interview to a close.