Rayzam thanks ‘big-hearted’ Kuckreja & Co for shoes, hopes companies will invest in athletes

All Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian wanted was to run at the upcoming SEA Games in Hanoi, in a new pair of shoes.

The national hurdler from Sabah got his wish after Kuckreja & Co, one of Malaysia’s oldest sports equipment wholesalers, stepped in to sponsor his shoes, ahead of the regional meet that officially begins on May 12.

Rayzam Shah now hopes more Malaysian companies will invest in local athletes, especially in young talents.

“Kuckreja & Co may not be a big international brand, but they have a big heart. It’s not a lucrative sponsorship deal, but it’s a deal that will get me going, motivate me to do my best, and return to Malaysia with a gold medal around my neck,” said Rayzam Shah, who turned 34 on Jan 11.

Rayzam Shah is expected to receive his new spikes, ordered from Singapore, tomorrow.

This is the second time Kuckreja & Co is sponsoring Rayzam Shah. Their first sponsorship commitment was in 2018.

“These things do matter, and it’s such deeds that I will treasure the most. This is a brand that is willing to spend money on me. I’m a nobody, but yet, they are willing to do it. It means so much to me.”

Rayzam Shah has both his feet firmly planted on the ground despite being a two-time gold medallist at the SEA Games, and the national record holder for the 110m hurdles (13.67s). He won his first gold medal at the Korat SEA Games in 2007.

The father of one won the silver medal in the 2011 (Palembang), 2013 (Naypyidaw) and 2015 (Singapore) editions, and struck gold in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.

Rayzam Shah, however, failed to defend his title in the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines following a neck-and-neck race with Clayton Kingsley Bautista, who represented the host team. Both hurdlers crossed the finish line at 13.97s, but Bautista was declared the winner following a photo finish.

“I still remember the 2007 SEA Games. Many didn’t expect me to win, and I was swarmed by the press. The late sports commentator, Hasbullah Awang, asked if I had called my mum to inform her of my win, and I naively replied that I didn’t have enough credit on my phone to make the call. Immediately, so many people offered their phones, and I got to speak to my mum, ‘live’ on television!”

He has also competed in the World Championships (2009 and 2013).

“I’m determined to end my career on a high. Now, I’m focused on giving my best. This will be my final event and I want to end it memorably. The shoes from Kuckreja & Co will be part of the final lap in my journey.

“Such help is important, especially for young athletes. Even for me, a brand sponsoring my shoes is already a huge relief, as I can concentrate on other matters. For young athletes, these things will motivate them to perform better and achieve better results.

“This is so important for rising stars and I hope more companies will invest in our athletes. They don’t have to spend millions of ringgit. All they need is a big heart.”

Kuckreja & Co owner, Mohanjit Kuckreja said the sponsorship was an “obligation” to help a sportsman. The company has supported other athletes including Harinder Sekhon, a cricketer and world record holder for the highest standing jump, and five-time World Muay Thai champion, Amir Naseri.

Mohanjit (left), Rayzam and Kuckreja & Co brand manager Allan Netto sharing a light moment at Kuckreja Sdn Bhd in 2018. The spike Mohanjit is holding was made for athletes in the 1940s. Image: Twentytwo13

“This is our way of giving back to sports. Rayzam Shah has done the country proud and sponsoring his shoes is the least we can do,” said Mohanjit.

“We hope our contribution will help Rayzam Shah achieve his goal and return as a national hero,” he added.