“I first got into BMX when I was 15. After watching X Games on ESPN, I thought that performing tricks on a bike was such a cool thing to do.
My idol back then was definitely the late Dave Mirra. Nothing was impossible to him. To this very day, I continue to be inspired by his skills, courage and relentless pursuit to push himself and the sport to another level.
I bought my very first bike after saving enough money from my part-time job. It was a Haro bike and I spent about $400 on it. There were less than 10 BMX bike companies in the world back then, and the Haro bike was something you’d normally get when you’re still a beginner.
Learning new tricks was a matter of monkey see, monkey do, really. YouTube didn’t exist in 1997, so my friends and I had to travel to Far East Plaza just to buy VHS tapes. We’d watch the tapes and then try out the tricks ourselves. Most of the time, we crashed and burned before getting a trick right.
Of course my mom nagged at first, but I was young, reckless and a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I had lots of energy, and I expressed it through BMX. It felt good every time I learned a new trick. It’s like playing a video game where you unlock a new and harder trick each time.
While BMX did start out as casual fun, it progressively became my passion with time. In the last 20 years of being in the sport, I’ve participated in many local and international competitions, and became a national athlete who’s recognised by the Singapore Cycling Federation.
But 2017 will be the year I retire from the national team. Age is catching up with me, and I’ve had two injuries that took a long time to heal. Being a father has also changed my life. Now, my wife and son – I’ve another baby boy on the way! – are my top priorities.
Before I retire from the national BMX team, I hope to represent Singapore at the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia. Going against riders who are 10 years younger is no easy task, but I will work hard to earn a spot one last time.
After that, I just want to ride for fun like how I used to. With my skills and experience, I’d also like to mentor the next generation of kids. I hope to keep BMX in Singapore alive by coaching and involving myself in private and government initiatives that will help raise awareness of the sport.” – Ariff, 35
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