Kalif Ismail

Marketing Specialist, Specialized Bicycles

For marketing specialist Kalif, cycling represents everything he loves – freedom, adventure, and an additional dimension that one is directing their own destiny. So it’s no surprise that he eventually began competitive road racing at the state level back in 1998. Having been invited to join the national selection team before realising his true calling, we’ll let him take the story from here:

What happened at the national selection program?

My father gave me a choice, either study abroad or pursue my sport in Kuala Lumpur. I knew he wanted me to choose the former, but I loved cycling and the promise of representing the nation was so enticing. I actually arrived at the national school, did a short stint and realized it just wasn’t for me. Instead, I went on to do Sports and Events Management degree in New Zealand, followed by a Masters in Business Marketing in the UK.

Why not?

other riders is a thrilling thing. But you also have to consider the bigger picture. The sacrifices you make very rarely pay off in the long run because generally speaking, there isn’t a comprehensive support system for professional athletes in this part of the world. After your time is done in competitive sports, whats next? You’re starting from ground zero again. So I believe in getting a strong educational background which will support you working in the areas of interest: for me it is cycling. And yes, now I get to enjoy both worlds because I am still actively in the sports industry, yet holding a role that I may not be able to if I didn’t pursue my degrees.

What makes you happy?

I love giving a wider perspective to younger riders. I tell them to always have a back-up plan and to put as much effort into studying for a professional degree as they do sports to give them the competitive edge in life. Because this will add value to their future sporting careers and help with post athlete days. Also statistically, very few will have the international success of Azizul Awang, Lee Chong Wei or Nicol David.

What are the top three lessons you’d like to pass on?

First, know yourself. I think a lof of youngsters see other people getting success from say, online trading and immediately they want to jump into that without considering if it is something they would enjoy doing or Is within their resources. Secondly, always have a back up plan. Mine was to pursue my education so I have something to fall back on. Thirdly, always lend a hand to helping others. It changes your perspectives and offers you a bigger view of things.

Jacket by Hugo Boss; Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono Black Steel with satin-finished and polished steel bracelet

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