When we met Irwandie Lakasek for the first time, his physical appearance instantly mesmerized our eyes! There was only one word to describe the 23-year-old. A strapping young man. A prominent jaw curved charmingly around and the strength of his neck showed in the twining cords of muscle that shaped his entire body; strong arms, bold thighs and calves, a firm chest and abdomen.
“I won two gold medals (in both Track – Scratch and Team Pursuit) in SEA Games 2017,” this young man had his way to introduce himself. After that, everything made sense to us. The approachable Irwandie sat down having lunch with us on a fine afternoon. Endowed with an aptitude for sports, the national cyclist shyly told his story. More intriguingly, his personal story as a cyclist and conqueror of various races and titles under his belt.
UNVEILING hIS FLAIR
Born in 1995, Irwandie, like any other boy, has never believed becoming one of the professional cyclists today. His first foray into cycling began at the age of 16, when he was casually invited by a bunch of “kawan”. Automatically, he took to it more like a get-together with his childhood friends.
Once he did, eventually, he relished in it very much, things went swimmingly. That was what happened to the Kemaman boy. In the early years, Irwandie represented the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) and Malaysia in a series of international cycling races. “The first road race I competed was in Perlis,” said Irwandie.
Over time, his potential and talent have attracted one of his cycling coaches in Kemaman, Terengganu who later invited Irwandie to join a local cycling club.” Since then, I started training with Chukai Cycling Club from Terengganu,” the talented cyclist stated. Getting dazzled by potential and seriousness of Irwandie, he also obtained an opportunity from National Sports Council (MSN).
In 2016, Irwandie made a surprise when he overtook the ranks of the renowned riders in the last pickup to win the elite category of Criterium Junior Cycling Malaysia in Johor Bahru. Having participated in several tournaments with excellent results, it became the starting point of his career as a cyclist.
ON ROAD AND TRACK
In recent times, aspiring road cum track cyclist Irwandie has risen from the cycling community. He has clearly been pleased to be trained under the supervision of the MSN for Cycling Program based in Bukit Jalil Kuala Lumpur.
Not only does he focus on track cycling, this rider is also breaking barriers as he heads to several countries to take part in road races competitively. Some of the races he took part in included Asia Cycling Championship India 2013 (Gold in Scratch Race), Asian Cup Thailand 2013 (Gold in 1km Time Trial), World Championship Glasgow Scotland 2013, Tour de Siak 2015 (Champion in Stage 1 and 3rd in Stage 4), Le Tour de Langkawi 2016, Tour of Iran 2016, The Asian Track Cycling Championships 2018 and many more.
“My parents are very supportive. Since I was a kid, they have been my pillar of strength in whatever I do. Now, I am grateful to be racing as a representative of Malaysia and Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) internationally,” Irwandie expressed. The journey of the Irwandie has been nothing but exceptionally smashing. After his success in SEA Games 2017, he decided to send in his resume to TSG. Things surprisingly went just as he wished. 2018 will absolutely be a great year ahead, as Irwandie will commence his expedition with TSG. You have to sacrifice to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it. True that.
Hailing from a region where cycling has predominated the limelight, at the same time being a part of Malaysia’s top cycling squad, there have been many highlights for Irwandie spanning throughout the years. To him, however, there is still room for improvement. Aside from his hard-hitting training regime on road and track, he absorbs and grasps knowledge from other experienced riders.
In early January, Irwandie started off his new year with TSG at Sharjah Tour 2018. The race was a maiden appearance for the young man. “I was really blessed and excited to be able to partake in such a big race. It was my first time with the pro tour,” he was trying to be more articulate when replying, however, the joy on his face did the justice.
Having maintained his cycling performance as well as a well-built figure, Irwandie further elucidated that road and track cycling do not have major inherent differences. In other words, he trains hard at track cycling as a means of honing his speed and fitness for road cycling. The first advantage of mastering track cycling is that he learns to have better control of his bike on road. “Basically, they are optimized to help me go faster. They are equivalent to sprinting,” Irwandie said. When he hops on a bike, he just has to push his speed and build up his endurance.
Perhaps, to Irwandie, the most obvious benefit of becoming proficient at track cycling is that it helps him to get a better understanding of his speed and pacing, as well as his aerodynamics. By adjusting his form on road again, he is able to overpower his road cycling endeavors. What’s awaiting him, then? “I will be representing Malaysia at Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta, and Tour of Filipinas 2018 with TSG,” Irwandie replied.
As we came to the end of the interview, it’s convincing to think he is strong-minded and diligent. He has had some big wins, but he is constantly trying to make every effort and do his utmost. “Never give up,” he abruptly uttered. Irwandie also strives to climb to the very top of world cycling, just like his senior, Azizulhasni Awang.
Whether the 23-year-old becomes one of those world champions is yet to be determined, but if his consistent development through the ranks is anything to go by, he will be one to watch. “Nonetheless my ambition is to become a Sport Director,” he bashfully concluded.