A mother of three, a lawyer, a very charismatic athlete who is dedicated to triathlon with three IRONMAN finishes. Diana Hazari is your mum ‘extra-TRIordinaire’.
This 42 year-old mother of 2 boys and a girl has been married since 2003, after meeting husband, Ramzul during the World Cup in 2002. ToughASIA had to find out how Diana keeps motivated and energetic to keep the whole wheel turning for her triathlon endeavours plus family, in this Mother’s Day exclusive.
ToughASIA: What inspired you to take up triathlon?
Diana: My husband and I went as spectators to IRONMAN Malaysia Langkawi 2010 triathlon to support our friends. The two of us were so inspired especially by one of the para athletes who cycled with no legs the entire 180km route with an impressive time.
As we waited at the finishing line, we kept hearing the announcement, ‘You Are An IRONMAN’ over and over again on the M-Dot red carpet. This phrase really got stuck in my head.
So after Langkawi, both of us started researching about IRONMAN and triathlon until we eventually decided to begin the journey ourselves!
ToughASIA: Were you already into sports before you met each other?
Diana: I have been a netball enthusiast since young. A district player during school and represented my university for MASUM. I also represented the Bar Council Malaysia for Bench and Bar Games (a yearly competitive sports between Malaysia and Singapore lawyers).
ToughASIA: What is the most memorable race you have competed in?
Diana: I must say IRONMAN Copenhagen 2018. It was my first overseas race and I learned a lot from it. For example, my pre-race preparations included acclimatising my body to everything foreign and new over in Denmark, not to mention the jetlag. Just imagine swimming in 17 degree Celsius water whilst using a wetsuit. I still remember that it took me 3 days to adjust to the water temperature as my body was simply not used to how cold it was compared to Malaysia and to top it all off, you have to swim in it straight for 3.8km.
Furthermore, being away from the kids for almost 2 weeks meant that I had to pre-arrange their schooling and daily routine which was tough enough as it was; it is totally different when you are on holiday and when you are preparing to race.
It is a mental challenge as a mother especially when I have to constantly check up on them with the time difference totally against me. So completing this first overseas triathlon race and finishing it with a PB is definitely something memorable to me. I feel like I have nailed it as a triathlete and mother.
ToughASIA: What is your proudest moment in triathlon?
Diana: Definitely finishing my second attempt of IRONMAN in Langkawi 2017. During my first attempt in 2016, I participated with stitches and wounds still fresh on my body as I had a major bike crash just weeks prior to race day. I failed to meet the cut-off time during the running leg that year with just 10km to go.
The DNF that year emboldened me to train harder the following year and I finally finished the race in 2017.
Seeing my kids and husband waiting for me near to midnight to watch me cross the M-Dot arch with pride and hearing “Diana Hazari, You Are An IRONMAN” for the first time was one of the best moments in my life.
ToughASIA: How do you manage between training, races and family?
Diana: IRONMAN training requires a lot of commitment and sacrifice.When our kids were a lot younger, my husband and I had to take turns on racing the long distance triathlon events, so that either one of us could take care of the children. We would also swap the training days given by our coach to a more convenient time especially when it comes to kid’s birthdays or school events. We are flexible when it comes to training as our children are our priority.
During the weekdays, I will wake up as early as 5am to prepare kids’ school lunchbox and then drop them off at school. Only after that, I start my training if I am not required to be at the firm. I’m lucky that my work is flexible too. If I’m busy during day time, I will make sure to find time in the evening after kids finish their homework and have their dinner.
There are times where I cannot commit to the training program given by my coach but he will always come out with something to make it doable for me. So, finding a good coach who understands your lifestyle is a must.
ToughASIA: How does your husband support your passion for your sport?
Diana: My husband, Ramzul, is one amazing guy. He helps and supports me in every single thing that I am doing. He makes sure that I have no doubt when I pursue things plus, a shoulder to cry on too. Best part, I can talk to him anytime. Definitely the better half of me.
ToughASIA: How does it feel to have a competitive husband in the same sport?
Diana: To be honest, I never see my husband as my competition and neither does him on me. We support and complement each other throughout our training and during races.
I am proud of him to see how far he has become from someone who was obese and not sporty at all, to a 5-time IRONMAN triathlon finisher with a PB in every race. We even race side by side in some events like my first 100 km ultra trail run as he was worried with me spending 24 hours in the jungle. Though unplanned, we swam 6.5km Kapas-Marang together after literally bumping into each other in the middle of the sea!
Despite this, we still like to troll each other on social media especially when it comes to swimming as that is the only discipline that I am better at than him – I am sure he will be mad reading this! For the record, I still hold the family record as the fastest swimmer for a non-wetsuit race in the IRONMAN distance. Both of us aim to stay healthy and continue racing in IRONMAN races and other long distance triathlon events until our children are old enough to race with us. That will be another dream come true for us.
ToughASIA: Do any of your children participate in triathlon or any of the disciplines?
Diana: Yes. All my 3 kids have entered aquathlon and duathlon events organised by their school and also a couple of Powerkids. My second child was a school competitive swimmer during his primary school years for breaststroke and entered an International Swim Meet in Bangkok a few years back. Were they inspired by me? Hmm, maybe a small bit.
I think now they are intimidated to see the long training hours and how we are recovering from post-IRONMAN races.
They always ask me how I managed to complete 3 IRONMAN races as well as wonder until now how I spent 24hrs in the jungle to complete my first 100km ultra trail run.
My answer to them is: you can achieve anything in life if you put your mind to it; work hard, persevere and have fun. We never pushed our children to be athletic as we want them to discover the journey themselves, just like how we first started, and we believe this approach of self discovery will make it have a more lasting impact on their lives.
ToughASIA: Are you part of any support group, club or team for mothers or women who participate in sports?
Diana: I am part of the Women For Tri Malaysia, where the objective is for Malaysian ladies to share their journey in doing multisports. It is a platform for newbies and experienced female triathletes alike to help and learn from one another.
Most of us are shy in asking triathlon-specific questions so the purpose of this group is to learn to better express ourselves in asking questions pertaining to women in this sport. Where we can express ourselves freely on women specific problems which can help to grow more Malaysian female triathletes from all ages and backgrounds in the future.
ToughASIA: What keeps you going into 2021 and beyond as a triathlete? Are you looking forward to any race in particular?
Diana: My family, especially my children, are definitely the ones that keep me going.
Every time I feel unmotivated and lost during this pandemic with the on-and-off of the Movement Control Order restrictions, I know that I have to be a role model for my children.
I need to show that obstacles and challenges will always be there in reaching our goals in life. What is important is to keep fighting and stay positive.
Speaking about race events this year, my husband and I are supposed to race in Challenge Roth in Germany this July but due to the current pandemic situation, we have postponed the race to next year. Hopefully, IRONMAN Langkawi can still happen this year and you might see both of us racing there!
ToughASIA: How did you celebrate Mother’s Day in this year?
Diana: This year will be my 17th Mother’s Day celebration. My husband always sends me flowers and sometimes chocolates on this day and ensure our children are part of the celebration as well. My husband cooked his yummy secret recipe of chicken rice or we might have a bbq night also later with the kiddos since kitchen was closed.