The Kuantan-born BMX flatland rider, Taslem Raziff is no stranger to the BMX scene in Malaysia. The 30-year-old’s performance at the 2019 SEA Games Philippines has put Malaysia on the cycling map.
2019 has been a remarkable year for Taslem as he won a bronze medal at the 2019 SEA Games Philippines in the BMX Freestyle Flatland category. The triumph was a history for Malaysia as Taslem became the only Malaysian to win in the SEA Games cycling category.
However, the BMX rider did not stop proving his talent and influence in the flatland genre.
What made you start the sport?
I got into BMX riding back in 2013.
When I was 13, I came across a BMX competition on the TV, and I thought it was cool and interesting. After that, I decided to try as I thought it looked uncomplicated.
In fact, BMX riding is not easy. I started riding at a skatepark 20 kilometres from my house. At that time, I was only wearing slippers. There was no coach, everything was on our own.
I started riding BMX flatland competitively because it had a greater popularity when I started out.
How do you come up with new tricks?
From picking up all kinds of tricks, I usually develop and evolve my own riding style.
What bike and specifications do you use?
Currently, I am sponsored by Autum Bikes. This bike has been with me for more than 5 years. I am using a 20-inch bicycle. For the geometry, I use a shorter frame. I’ve also got my saddle shortened to achieve a lighter weight. This bike has been modified for freecoasters.
What were the Malaysian scene like for BMX flatland when you were starting out?
Compared to the scene today, BMX was a phenomenon back in the old days. Everyone must have a BMX bike in their house. I got my first bike a year before I started riding.
The sport is niche, how is the BMX community in Malaysia?
In general, the BMX community is very small not only in Malaysia, but also in the world. There are only about 40 to 50 BMX riders in Malaysia, however, most of them do it out of passion.
A little over four years ago, the UCI announced the integration of BMX Freestyle Park into its official cycling disciplines. It will make its debut on the Summer Olympic stage in Tokyo 2020.
And that was how the BMX sport has surged in popularity over the past few years.
What was your experience at the 2019 SEA Games Philippines?
Unfortunately, there’s no proper competition or selection before the 2019 SEA Games. I was selected to the Games with another representative, Mat Dagu because of our performance and achievement in the local scene.
Despite having taken part in several international competitions, the participation in the SEA Games was special. I was representing my country in the competition, so I had to work harder.
What is your next goal and what have you planned for the future?
I will be taking part in international competitions hosted by FISE. The FISE World Series includes the UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Cup and the UCI BMX Flatland World Cup.
Apart from riding, I am also focusing on my career. I am a freelance photographer. Being a business-oriented person, I may be moving into a bicycle business in the future.
What advice would you give to the young flatland riders?
To be a good BMX flatland rider, you have to cover the basic BMX flatland tricks. You have to master the basic tricks, in order to create your own style, and build your originality.
From learning the basic tricks, you will be able to combine, recreate, and perform. In a BMX flatland competition, it is important to unleash your creativity. You have to show the judges that your BMX flatland tricks are different from the other riders.
As cliché as it sounds, the key to success is effort. It takes time to progress.