Adilla Thunder, Tandem Rider

Earlier this year, we celebrated International Women’s day with a special female focus issue - Cycling Plus Malaysia's March-April Volume 20. We thought we would meet with three women - some of the most feared and respected in cycling - to see what their journey has been like.

In this feature we have Noraidillina Adilla - best known as Malaysia’s up and coming track cyclist, Siti Hajar A Bakar, a  mountain biker with nerves of steel and Mariana Mohammad - known to be one of the fastest female road cyclists Malaysia has ever produced.

This is the second/third of these features - Noraidillina Adilla J. Sam

Beautiful, young and powerful, Noraidillina Adilla or better known as Adillathunder on Instagram is one of the brightest sparks to come out of our National Sports Council cycling programme.

Initially nurtured by the legendary Ng Joo Ngan, it seems like Adilla has yet to reach her full potential.

From the looks of it, she has a bright future and we are very proud of her for her efforts in the Paralympics where she took part in the tandem race as a ‘sighted’ rider and helped Paralympian, Nur Azlia Syafinaz to win four gold medals at the 2018 Asean Paralympic Games.

When was the first time you ever encountered a bicycle and was it love at first sight?

I got my first bicycle (4 wheels) when I was four years old. My grandfather bought it for me. When I got comfortable on the bike, I cycled out every evening to play with my friends. I didn’t stop at just riding the bike either because I loved tinkering with it.

I secretly removed the two other wheels so that I could balance using my body, which was fun until I fell and received cuts and bruises around my knee. Ever since then, I have always wanted to include cycling as part of my life and I especially cherish those days when I got to see Josiah Ng and Azizulhasni Awang racing on television.

What is it about cycling that you love?

Speed and freedom! I also like a healthy dose of fresh oxygen. I see cycling as a way of distracting myself from bad vibes, and the best thing about it is that I can do it anytime.

When did you realise you were actually good at cycling and what made you want to proceed further in it?

Back in 2010 I joined a MTB jamboree in Bernam Jaya and managed to land fifth place. Since then my father has encouraged me to do more and has let me join many events because he saw that I had the potential and is eager for me to spread my wings.

Adilla Thunder
Adilla Thunder

Can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing? 

As a national athlete, many thought I would have come from a sports school, but actually I was just like everybody else in a normal school. Cycling was mostly during school holidays when I was invited to join Pahang’s state cycling training camp.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would get to be there. Pahang was the first state I trained with, and coach ‘Pok Ngah’.

Once school holidays were over I went back to Putrajaya (my hometown) and continued with my education at SMK Putrajaya Presint 11 (1) where I was mostly involved in the orchestra and taekwondo.

Cycling was just my other hobby outside of school. In 2012, I moved to SMK Seri Bintang Selatan - where my real cycling journey began. Whilst there, I was chosen to represent Wilayah Persekutuan. I trained under the guidance of Datuk Ng Joo Ngan up until my first SUKMA Games in Pahang.

I was 17 years old at that point and never thought that I would be representing my country from then up till now. There have been some years where I lost a lot and there have been some years where I won a lot.

I have even been through terrible mental breakdowns because of past injuries. From time to time I always check myself and reset my goals so that I can kick it up another notch.

Do you have a job to help supplement the cycling?

Cycling is my main job at the moment and I’m still studying in UKM where I am taking a degree course in BA Hons sport and recreation (education).

What do your family members think about your involvement in cycling? What do you think your friends think you do in cycling? What is it you actually do when you are cycling?

Everyone has their own perception of something. People won’t know what it’s really like till they actually do it.

How do you think we can get more women to cycle?

Organise a group ride for women only, clinics for skills, motivate them and show them the benefit of cycling and not be judgemental no matter how strong or weak someone is.

Who do you look up to in the cycling world?

Our dearest Mr Pocketrocketman, Azizulhasni Awang, Marriane Vos, Victora Pendleton and Laura Kenny.

Adilla Thunder
Adilla Thunder

What do you think Malaysia needs more of to help promote cycling?

Stop bike racism, all kinds of bikes should unite as one! Also, we need conventional infrastructure facilities, as well as getting potential cyclists  to start from a young age.

What is your greatest achievement? In cycling and life?

Being part of the Paralympics and winning the Tandem bike event, winning many medals from different level of championships.

If you had an advice for women on how to take up cycling or move forward with it, what would it be?

If you can handle the suffering from a break up then you can absolutely handle the suffering on a bike.