NILAI TO BE

Na­tional Velo­drome shows the govt’s se­ri­ous­ness in pro­duc­ing world­class cy­clists

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer, a for­mer as­sis­tant news ed­i­tor at BT, is NST’s Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan bureau chief

SOUTH-BOUND mo­torists along the NorthSouth Ex­press­way surely will not pass with­out notic­ing a multi-coloured boxshaped build­ing on the right side of the high­way near the Nilai toll exit in Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan.

The struc­ture is none other than the Na­tional Velo­drome, which opened its doors last week.

It is now the na­tion’s new cy­cling hub for na­tional cy­clists, as­pir­ing cham­pi­ons or any bik­ing en­thu­si­asts.

Youth and Sports Min­is­ter Khairy Ja­malud­din said the RM80 mil­lion velo­drome would take over from the 28-year-old Velo­drome Rakyat in Ipoh, Perak, which is be­ing up­graded and the 30-year-old Cheras Velo­drome in Kuala Lumpur, which will be de­mol­ished to make way for com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment.

“For Malaysia to pro­duce more world-class cy­cling cham­pi­ons, the coun­try would need to build more world-class sports venues and in­fra­struc­ture like the velo­drome in Nilai,” Khairy said at the launch of the new sports fa­cil­ity last week.

The velo­drome has a rac­ing track dis­tance of 250 me­tres. Con­struc­tion be­gan in Jan­uary 2015, which was over­seen by the Works Min­istry. It was handed over to Khairy’s min­istry on May 20 this year.

The velo­drome’s cy­cling track is built from Siberian spruce wood. The velo­drome can hold 2,000 spec­ta­tors and was ac­corded first-class ac­cred­i­ta­tion by Switzer­land-based Union Cy­cliste In­ter­na­tionale.

Out­side of the velo­drome, there is also a BMX cy­cling track mea­sur­ing 50m x 120m, which con­forms with the Union Cy­cliste In­ter­na­tionale’s stan­dards and spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

These tracks will be the of­fi­cial venue for the 29th Sea Games 2017 in Kuala Lumpur be­tween Aug 19 and 30 and the Asean Para Games be­tween Sept 17 and 23.

Un­der the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020), the gov­ern­ment also plans to build seven mini bi­cy­cle tracks in Ke­lan­tan, Kedah Sabah and Jo­hor and it is hoped that the re­spec­tive state gov­ern­ments will ap­prove the land ac­qui­si­tion and ex­pe­dite the process to build the mini bi­cy­cle tracks.

The velo­drome shows the gov­ern­ment’s se­ri­ous­ness in pro­duc­ing world-class cham­pi­ons. With its com­ple­tion, the search for new tal­ent and the de­vel­op­ment of cy­clists can be im­ple­mented to the max­i­mum.

The years 2016 and 2017 can be con­sid­ered as the glory years for the Malaysian cy­cling scene as Az­izul­hasni Awang, “The Pocket Rock­et­man”, clinched bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil in the keirin event as well as gold at the World Cham­pi­onships in the same event in Hong Kong.

The win by the Dun­gun lad was by no means an easy feat, as he was the first Malaysian and South­east Asian to win gold in the event at the in­ter­na­tional stage. And now, the coun­try looks for­ward to Az­izul­hasni win­ning the coun­try’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

His win has shown that noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble and it would be the yard­stick for all youths who want to ex­cel in the in­ter­na­tional arena in the fu­ture.

Other than Az­izul­hasni, the coun­try has a lot of other tal­ent be­ing pol­ished, such as 22-yearold Muham­mad Shah Fir­daus Sahrom, who is ranked fifth in the world keirin event.

Shah Fir­daus is on the right track to con­tinue Malaysia’s cy­cling ex­cel­lence when he clinched the bronze medal in the keirin event at the Asian Cy­cling Cham­pi­onships in New Delhi, In­dia, in Fe­bru­ary this year.

An­other cy­clist, Muham­mad Nur Ai­man Rosli, also made waves by grab­bing bronze at the same cham­pi­onship in the Om­nium event.

Not to be left be­hind are the women cy­clists who are also stamp­ing their mark, such as Fate­hah Mustapa, who is ranked 42nd in the sprint event and Fa­rina Shawati Mohd Ad­nan.

It is hoped that Malaysia’s ex­cel­lence in cy­cling in 2016 will con­tinue this year at the Sea Games.

The cy­cling squad will likely con­tinue their form and help the Malaysian con­tin­gent to be­come the over­all cham­pion in the 29th edi­tion of the Sea Games.

With­out a doubt, cy­cling is one of the many events which have pro­vided the big­gest ex­po­sure and op­por­tu­nity for our youth.

With pas­sion and a burn­ing com­mit­ment, Malaysian youth can com­pete in the Olympics, as was demon­strated by Az­izul­hasni.

The na­tion’s suc­cess in pro­duc­ing tal­ented cy­clists is due to de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes, such as the Malaysian Ju­nior Cy­cling Pro­grammes, im­ple­mented by the Na­tional Sports Coun­cil.

The coun­cil has pro­vided the plat­form to con­sis­tently pro­duce pro­fes­sional cy­clists in a more struc­tured man­ner, and this will pave the way to roll out fu­ture cham­pi­ons, es­pe­cially from Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan.

The Nilai Velo­drome launch also broke with tra­di­tion. In­stead of Khairy and Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan Men­teri Be­sar Datuk Seri Mo­hamad Hasan tak­ing the cue, it was for­mer cy­cling greats who were given the hon­ours. This in­cluded Ng Joo Ngan, M. Ku­mare­san, Ros­man Alwi, Josiah Ng and Az­izul­hasni.

In the launch of the new velo­drome, the fra­ter­nity also paid trib­ute to past cy­cling greats such as Sha­harudin Jaa­far, the late Daud Ibrahim, Ng Joo Pong, the late Rosli Abd Kadir and Nur Af­fendi Rosli, who poured their heart and soul to bring glory to the na­tion in their re­spec­tive events.

It also paid trib­ute to the founders of the sport, such as Gur­chan Singh who founded the Malaysia Na­tional Cy­cling Fed­er­a­tion in 1953, as well as other lu­mi­nar­ies who con­trib­uted im­mensely to the sport, such as Tan Sri Elyas Omar, Tan Sri Dar­shan Singh, the late Daud Kas­sim, Datuk Ma­zlan Ah­mad and Datuk Abu Samah Wa­hab.

The Na­tional Velo­drome has a ca­pac­ity of 2,000 spec­ta­tors and is ac­corded first-class ac­cred­i­ta­tion by Switzer­land­based Union Cy­cliste In­ter­na­tionale.

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