Burning desire fires Jupha Somnet to the top
It all started with the desire to own a racing bicycle. This was how national track cyclist Jupha Somnet began her career in competitive track cycling.
Growing up in Chuping, Perlis, Jupha was surrounded by people who were into sports. Her aunt was the assistant to coach Muhammad Affendy who coached the Perlis Cycling Team. Her son, Yukwandie, is a state cyclist. She is also related to athletes, Zaidatul Husniah and Zaidatul Husna. Zaidatul Husniah is an Olympian who represented Malaysia at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Jupha, 23, said that her aunt got her interested in cycling when she was still in school and she has not looked back since. She also said that it started back when Persatuan Perlis used to give out racing bicycles to young, aspiring riders and since she used to cycle to school, she wanted to own a racing bicycle.
“It was just a basic racing bicycle. It was metal and it was just a simple bicycle. I wanted one so that was how I started to get into track cycling”, she explained. When asked when did she take the sport seriously, she answered “I started to take it more seriously when I was 13, in Form 1. Then I moved to Sekolah Sukan Bandar Penawar in Form 2”.
Showing strong potential, the teenager then was transferred to the renowned Bukit Jalil Sports School in Form 4 and Form 5 before finally starting her professional training at the National Sports Council (MSN) where she has been residing and training for competitions until now.
Jupha, the fourth of five siblings, mentioned that she looked up to five time 500m World Champion and Olympic gold medal winner Australian track cyclist Anna Meares when she first started out. “She was the best in the world at the time. She won so many medals and competitions so I looked up to her a lot”, Jupha explained.
In 2015, Jupha was hailed as the one to watch at the 2016 Rio Olympics but she was not part of the Malaysian contingent at the Games because at the 2nd World Cup Track Cycling Series in New Zealand she crashed out due to injury. Unable to gather enough points to make the Top 15 Asian list, Jupha just narrowly missed out behind Japan and subsequently was kept as reserve for the Olympic Games.
Now, Jupha Somnet has set her sights on making it to next year’s SEA Games with a point to prove and hopes to achieve the highest she can on the track.