Extreme passion

Pictures by: 
Jonathan Choo
Report by: 
Zachary Soh

He is only 12, but already he has a scar on his chin and has injured his back and knees. All because Izzadnaff Abdul Manaf fell in love with dirt jumping, an extreme sport where bikers “jump over” wide gaps, hanging in the air for as long as possible before they land.

Last Sunday, Izzadnaff, who just finished his PSLE examinations, took part in the Yew Tee Street JAM 2013 at Yew Tee Hardcourt. In a field of more than 30 contestants, Izzadnaff, the youngest competitor there, came in 12th. But this was not his first competition. The young extreme sports enthusiast has taken part in over 10 competitions, such as Mettle Games 2011 Urban Downhill at the Singapore Flyer.

Four years ago, when he was just eight, Izzadnaff’s father showed him several YouTube videos of dirt jumping. The boy immediately fell in love with the sport and told his father: “I want to be like them.” Recalled Izzadnaff: “He said to me, ‘If you want to be like them, you have to start training’.”

Izzadnaff did so by cycling with his father and Extreme later with a group of experienced cyclists who are his father’s friends. He now clocks in 45km a day at least once every two weeks. He is trained by his father and his friends and goes to Malaysia once a month to take part in races. His father, Mr Abdul Manaf, 49, has spent big bucks on his BMX bikes. He said with a chuckle: “I’ve spent thousands of dollars on his bikes. I don’t remember how much I’ve spent exactly.” He added that he saw potential in his son when the boy was just three.

Mr Abdul Manaf, a despatch clerk, said: “I saw that he had talent during our family cycling sessions. So I started exposing him to extreme sports and it turned out that he liked it a lot.” Mr Abdul Manaf also has a 10-year-old son, who is learning the ropes of extreme biking. Izzadnaff revealed that he has had injuries on his back and knees. He even has a scar on his chin from an accident in June. “I tried to jump my bike over a big gap. But I missed and fell on my chin.” Izzadnaff needed two stitches and his father was understandably worried.

Said Mr Abdul Manaf: “Every parent will get worried over their child’s injuries. But I always tell him to train before he participates in any event.” Izzadnaff signed up for the Yew Tee event even though it was held just after his PSLE exams. He said: “During the time I sat for my PSLE, I didn’t touch my bike at all.” The boy took part in the Bike Air Raid (Dirt Jump) event, where most of the contestants were at least four years older than him.

When asked if he felt intimidated by the adult contestants, he said: “No, I just wanted to gain more experience.” He wowed spectators, clocking an impressive 14.95 seconds from start to finish.

The winner of the dirt jump challenge was 17-year-old Syahdu Shaharruddin, a student at ITE College West, who finished in 14 seconds. Said Syahdu: “I knew it was going to be competitive. I had not trained for four months because I had fractured my wrists a few months ago.” He owed his victory to his friends. “They supported me through the hard times. I feel great,” he said.

Here are some pictures from the event.

The article related to these pictures was first published in The New Paper on 18 October 2013.