Hitting a home run

IT is said that good things come in small packages, and that is exactly what can be said about Muhammad Syafiq Rusli.

In spite of his small stature, this lad from Kuantan, Pahang is as fast as lightning. After all, with his personal best of running 10km in only 39 minutes, he is a force to be reckoned with.

“I have enjoyed running ever since I was in form five because it gives me a sense of peace and calmness. When I run, I get to savour the natural environment around me while feeling the breeze run on my skin,” he explained.

Having joined several marathons and running events, the 22-year-old stumbled upon the Ironman and the Powerman events after he finished high school, and decided to join his university’s Extreme Sports Club to pursue this interest.

“To prepare for the event, I would train almost every evening with my peers from the Extreme Sports Club. We constantly push each other to be better.”

One of the highlights of his running journey involves travelling to Switzerland to join the 2016 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships. While this was his first overseas event, he managed to finish third in the 20-24 age group category – much to his overwhelming joy.

Syafiq recently participated in the Powerman Asia Duathlon Championships – Malaysia 2017 at Putrajaya, where he was placed sixth in the male (18-24 years old) category, while ranked 102nd out of 1, 353 participants.

Tell us about your experience at the 2016 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships.
Until today, I’m very happy and thankful to achieve such placing overseas. This victory is not only for myself, but for those who have supported me such as my family and friends, the army, Akademik Latihan Ketenteraan (ALK), Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM), and Old Putera Association (OPA). More than a personal satisfaction, I hope that my success will inspire youngsters nationwide.

How did you feel about competing against other participants who are older and bigger than you?
At 21 years old, I was actually placed in the younger age group category, so age was not a barrier for me to make it to the international standards. Moreover, a lot of training is needed to take up this sport and by competing with older and better participants, it fires me up to work harder and challenges me to push myself further.

Which do you think is more important: training or diet?
To me, both aspects are equally important. For training, I need to have a high level of commitment and discipline in order to follow my training schedule. When it comes to eating, I ensure that the food I consume is high in nutrients and speed up recovery, so that I am in tip-top shape.

Can you share with us your diet?
I usually eat moderate and balanced meals. Since most of my meals are from the university cafeteria, they already adhere to the health authority’s guidelines. I don’t take any additional supplement or nutrients for my training though. Some of the things I practise, however, include drinking water after waking up in the morning, refraining from iced-drinks, having dinner before Maghrib, and consuming carbohydrates an hour after training.

For those who are interested to join Ironman or Powerman, what advice will you give them?
Running is a fun and enjoyable sport; nonetheless, it requires you to put in the commitment, dedication and discipline to succeed.