"My hero wears a tight and he dopes." Sara Aziz joked on her BLOG, before wishing everyone Selamat Hari Raya. She was well aware of the ailments the sport suffered, but was still in love with it.
Sara passed away a few hours ago at 9.15pm, aged 20, having lost a long, painful fight against lung cancer.This was a girl who'd shared undivided love for the sport of cycling, together with the rest of us. Her step father Datuk Astaman Abdul Aziz is the organiser of Jelajah Malaysia.
But she was no official, she didn't race, she was just a true blue cycling fan, who I bumped into at every other race in the country, where often she took photos just for the love of it.
The pint-sized shutterbug was always with a camera and her pictures were as good as any of the veteran photographers covering cycling, sometimes even better.
Sara seemed to always think I'd know what the result would be way before a race ended and I really enjoyed arguing why I thought my predictions would be true. She was Anuar Manan's number one fan and I guess her favourite team too was Le Tua.
That picture above was taken when I joined a few guys from the Le Tua Cycling Team to pay a visit to Sara shortly before she began treatment for the cancer in August. I never wanted it to be the last picture we had with her.
On that visit, when we all enjoyed the Olympics road race won by Samuel Sanchez together, we'd also given her the book "It's not about the bike" by Sally Jenkins, which tells the entire story of Lance Armstrong's battle and survival of testicular cancer. The Le Tua boys and myself hoped it would inspire her. I did a posting on that visit HERE , and Sara did leave a message, her last on this blog too.
I just got back from Sara's home in Damansara Heights, where there were throngs of people, including national cyclists Rizal Tisin, Harnizam Basri and Zamri Salleh. Their coach Fairoz Izni Abdul Ghani was there too, along with Anuar Manan.
Shared a few moments with Sara's step brother Ariff, when we reflected on the super girl that she was. Sara's dream of spectating the Tour de France though, will remain unfulfilled. She will be buried at the Bukit Kiara Muslim cemetery at 11am today.
I am really going to miss the presence of this true Malaysian cycling fan. There's nothing I can do... Ya Allah, please take good care of her.