By : SYIDA LIZTA AMIRUL IHSAN
The new face for Nivea Men sweats it out daily for the love of badminton but SYIDA LIZTA AMIRUL IHSAN is keen to know of his other passions in life.
HAFIZ Hashim was about to leave for home from Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara. Wearing a blue T-shirt, track pants and a pair of blue-and-white rubber slippers, he was drenched in sweat. But just when youíre about to categorise him as a jock with modest tastes in fashion, he brings out, from his pants pocket, a Louis Vuitton wallet in Damier canvas and the key to his ride, a white Toyota Wish.
Turns out, heís a fan of the French luxury brand. ''It has beautiful things,'' he says. ''Kalaulah LV sponsor Ö syoknya! (If only LV will sponsor me, now nice that would be?)'', he said with the excitement of a teenager. But he has no problems carrying a Louis Vuitton wallet while wearing a pair of flip-flops.
Thatís the kind of quiet confidence this badminton champion has. Unpretentious, heís also soft-spoken. Hafiz, who, in 2003 made the country proud by winning the All-England menís singles title, stands tall at 1.9m, but listen to him talk and youíll see that he doesnít look down on anyone.
He has learned to take criticism in his stride, he says, referring to his string of defeats. ''Itís difficult sometimes, being judged by people who, for the most part, donít know you, but I try not to let it affect me. I think if they know me and how hard I train, they might understand and not criticise so much.''
At 25, he said he has grown and is more mature than others his age. And meeting other players and coaches and travelling all over the world has played a big role in shaping him as a person.
''Some people may think that tournaments are important, but as an athlete, the work is in the training. I may lose, but if I have played well, I would be proud of myself. On the other hand, I would feel bad if I depended on my opponentís mistakes to win.''
Hafiz is currently the talent for Nivea Men in Malaysia (together with actor Craig Fong) and this is his first foray into the beauty industry. ''Iím pretty much a simple guyÖ but before Nivea Men came along, I used to borrow my wifeís skincare!'' says this Kelantan-born player.
With the market for menís beauty products expanding, men are fronting skincare ads. Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro is the face of Biotherm Homme and English actor Clive Owen is the ambassador for Lancome menís range.
''Iím a practical person. I use only what I need. I donít use lotion here, for instance, but if I travel to a country which is dry, I would. Itís necessary, even.''
Hafiz likes Japanese food ó his favourites are udon and teppanyaki.
And when heís not playing badminton, he will be out watching movies with his wife whoís also a movie buff. ''I have practically made GSC in 1 Utama my home.''
So what is beauty, I ask him. ''Itís simplicity, knowing who you are and being confident in your own skin.''