KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Hafiza Othman was tired of being fat and unhealthy. After having her second child, she ballooned to 106kg and found it hard to do the simple things in life.
She started easy runs to shed kilos in 2014. Beginning with 15 and 21km runs, she gradually progressed to half then full-marathons and ultra-marathons (more than 50km) by 2015.
“It wasn’t enough. I wanted to challenge myself and decided to learn swimming,” recalled Hafiza.
“Three months later, I took part in a swim-athon event from Kapas Island to Pantai Marang which was 6.5km.
“After that I bought my first bicycle and started my foray into Ironman,” said Hafiza who finished last year’s Ironman Langkawi in 14 hours and 36 minutes.
Hafiza now tips the scale at 61kg, looking trim and fit for a mum of two kids, Aumi Najlaa (10) and Harraz Zarif (8). A far cry from her school days where she was a fat kid and got ridiculed.
She admits to posting her weight loss on social media and she’s got some backlash from haters.
“I’ll be honest, not everyone loves what I do. There are some who say I’m too obsessed, too thin,” said the 33-year-old.
“Others love what I’m doing and use me as inspiration to do the same. That’s what I want. Because in the end you must do what’s good for you and makes you happy.
“The beauty of Ironman is no matter the age, you can compete. it’s not about winning but finishing the race.
“The sense of accomplishment is great. Despite Ironman Langkawi’s uncertain status every year, I hope they continue. That’s the only thing in Malaysia that we shouldn’t let go of as more people need awareness on Ironman competitions.”
Hafiza has a sweet demeanour and is very respectful. She recalls an incident with an Englishman who was surprised she was competing in her “hijab” and was fully covered from head to toe like any puritan Muslim.
“Are you competing in this attire? I’ve got so much respect for you as that’s going to be very tough in this weather,” recalled Hafiza.
“People should know that you don’t need to have skimpy shorts or a tiny top to compete. You can wear whatever you want. It’s about your state of mind.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey that’s important”.
Hafiza wants to best her time at this tournament. She’ll have for company her fiancé who will be competing alongside.
“It’s great to be able to do it with someone you love. It strengthens our love for each other,” said Hafiza.