Muhammad I'maadi Abd Aziz warms up before the men's 100km team time trial at the 27th SEA Games in Napyidaw last year. Picture: BT/ Yee Chun Leong
National cyclist Muhammad I'maadi Abd Aziz is aiming high and looking for a top-20 finish in Scotland.
The 22-year-old will be the sole Bruneian representative at the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from July 23 - August 3. He is set to take part in two track events (Point Race and Scratch) as well as the road race event (Mass Start). I'maadi is in a confident mood and things are going smoothly leading up to the main event.
"I hope to finish in the top-20 as that is my goal. I'm shaping up for the race now," said I'maadi in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday. "It will be one of the biggest races that I've ever joined because I'll be competing against many pro riders," he said.
"Some of them have even competed in the Tour de France before and they are far more experienced than me," continued I'maadi. The last competition for the national cyclist was the Asian Cycling Championships (ACC) in Astana, Kazakhstan from May 21-26.Brunei was the best finisher among the ASEAN countries and ranked sixth in Asia. He placed 10th in the men's Under-23 road race event. "It was a really tough race as it was really windy," said I'maadi.
"I managed 10th place after finishing a 172-kilometre race and that is not a bad result," he said. I'maadi was also given a chance of a lifetime after being sent to Switzerland to train at the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Cycling Centre (WCC) in March.
The three-month long 2014 Under-23 Road Training Camp in Geneva provided a helpful boost to his performance. "Attending the course has really helped me improve. But for the time being I've lost a bit of my racing momentum since it has been a while since the last competition," said I'maadi.
"During my time at WCC, we had at least four races per month. I raced a lot there and that helped me pick up on speed racing," he said. The national cyclist was also thankful to be handed the opportunity to represent the Sultanate at such a prestigious event.
"I also want to thank BDNOC (Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council) and JBS (Department of Youth and Sports) for this opportunity of a lifetime," he expressed. "I also want to thank JBS for providing me with a new bike to be fully prepared," added the national cyclist.
National cycling coach Yafiz Jamaludin knows the level of difficulty of the target and is optimistic with his rider. "That is a good result if he can make it," said Yafiz. "It is not easy but anything is possible. He has a high level of morale and confidence right now after achieving a top-10 finish at the ACC for an Under-23 Road Race event," added the national cycling coach.
"The CWG is a higher level race because he will be competing against more professional riders," concluded Yafiz. This will be the seventh time the country will compete in the Games. The Sultanate became a member of the Commonwealth in 1984 and established a National Olympic Committee (BDNOC) the same year.
However, it was not until the 1990 edition in Auckland, New Zealand, that Brunei competed in its first Games. Since then, the Sultanate has competed in every edition of the tournament - but has yet to return with a medal.
The country was only represented in lawn bowls at the last edition in New Delhi four years ago. A total of 11 athletes - six men and five women - flew the flag for Brunei at the Games. The men competed in the singles, pairs and triples events while the women laced up for the pairs and triples.