KUALA LUMPUR: An 18-year-old Terengganu boy has emerged as the third place winner in the Street Workout Freestyle World Championship 2017 in Moscow, Russia last Saturday.

Engku Mohd Ikhwan Engku Shamsu from Kemaman was Malaysia’s only representative, up against 70 participants from 50 countries before he came in third in the freestyle calisthenics world competition held annually.

“I’m very proud to be a winner in a world championship, although I did not make to the first place. I started off through small competition three years ago and today I’ve won the third prize in a world-recognised competition. This is a big achievement for me," said Ikhwan, who had returned from Moscow on Monday.

Ikhwan said although he has been actively involved in this sport since the age of 16, there are very little exposure and promotion to the sport.

“I actually started calisthenics workout after watching a few videos on YouTube. I became interested in the sport and tried some of the moves on my own at home,” said the fourth of seven siblings.

He said after that he used social media networks to connect with other calisthenics enthusiasts in Terengganu under Turtle Squad before he took part in his first competition in Temerloh in 2015, in which he won first prize.

Ikhwan was accompanied by his father, Engku Shamsu Che Engku Daik, 50, his apparel sponsor, Modern Vision’s co-founders Brandon Lee and Haikal Shukri during a recent interview with the New Straits Times.

He admitted that he did not have any government sponsorships, and it was most likely because the sport is new and not very well-known among the public.

“After that event my father saw my enthusiasm and interest in the sport and built a metal bar scaffolding just outside my house for me to train. I used to watch calisthenics videos and try the moves on my own as part of my training sessions before any competitions,” said Ikhwan.

Speaking on his recent achievement in Moscow, he said he felt nervous in the beginning because he was competing with all the big names in the sport, including players who he used to idolise through the social media.

“Actually the language was a bit of a barrier since I had to go alone but somehow I survived,” he said, thanking Modern Vision for having made prior arrangements with the competition organisers.

Ikhwan also added that he was proud yet nervous to compete alongside the world champions, Daniels Laizans (Latvia) and second place winner, Viktor Kamenov (Bulgaria) in the competition organised by World Street Workout & Calisthenics Federation recently. He also shared that his younger brother is also following in his footsteps and has even participated and won several local competitions.

In fact, Ikhwan himself has competed in many countries and will be participating in upcoming competitions in Paris (Sept), Brunei (Oct), Dubai (Nov) and also Bahrain (Dec) where he is expected to defend his title after winning the championship in 2016.

Other than competing in the sport, Ikhwan also represented Malaysia as one of the judges for a calisthenics competition in Egypt earlier this year.

Modern Vision’s co- founder Brandon Lee said they were trying to get in touch with the Youth and Sports Ministry to see how they could get recognition to boost the sport in the country.

“It’s a fast growing sport, especially among weightlifters and gym enthusiasts but sadly there isn’t enough exposure to the sport in the country. Modern Vision hopes that international accomplishments like the recent one by Ikhwan, which has made a name for Malaysia, will not go unseen,” he said.

Lee said Ikhwan too does not have any coach to train with but instead he relies fully on videos posted by other calisthenics sportsmen on YouTube and Instagram.

“He has a big potential and a little bit of extra motivation and assistance can take him further in the sport, and even land him a career in the field later,” Lee said.

Modern Vision is a relevantly new set-up which has signed on as the official apparel sponsor for Hopper Warrior 2017, an event co-organised by the Youth and Sport Ministry in October.

Engku Mohd Ikhwan Engku Shamsu from Kemaman in action. Photo courtesy of Modern Vision.