Pedalling into ‘goldmine’
SEEN as the “goldmine” of the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games (KL2017), cycling is offering 20 gold medals through three disciplines: track, road, and BMX. And Malaysia are targeting 13.
The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) projected the track squad will win 11 of the 13 events while the other two gold medals are expected to come from the road cyclists.
Last week, it was reported the tickets for track cycling events on August 29 were sold out as Malaysians hope to catch a glimpse of keirin world champion, Azizulhasni Awang in action at the National Velodrome in Nilai.
Azizul, who made the nation proud when he won the World Track Cycling Championships in Hong Kong in March, hopes to produce stunning results at the Sea Games in front of his friends and family when he competes in the men’s individual sprint and keirin.
Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom will also be in action in front of the home crowd as the Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC) Track Cycling bronze medallist is set to race in the men’s individual sprint alongside Azizul, the 1km time trial and team sprint.
Shah Firdaus, who clinched his maiden World Cup medal in February, came in third behind winner South Korean Park Jeone and runner-up Australian Matthew Glaetzer in the men’s keirin final at the ITS Melbourne Grand Prix recently.
In Melbourne, Shah Firdaus wasn’t the only one who collected a medal as women track cyclist Fatehah Mustapa took home the bronze medal after she and teammates Anis Amira Rosidi and Farina Shawati Adnan, placed third in the women’s sprint team event.
Fatehah is set to make her third appearance at the Sea Games and will be competing in four events which include women’s individual sprint, keirin, 500m time trial and the team sprint event.
The two-time Olympian will be the only track athlete to compete in the most number of events at the Sea Games.
Track cycling head coach John Beasley admitted it is a big ask but does not doubt that Fatehah can deliver following her past results at Sea Games.
In 2011, Fatehah took home three gold medals in sprint, 500m time trial and team sprint with Jupha Somnet. Aside from Fatehah’s three-gold medals, Malaysia won a total of seven out of 12 events in Indonesia, which was the last time track cycling was held in the Sea Games.
In the road category, all six boys from the Pro-Asia Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) have been listed for the Sea Games to race in the mass start and criterium categories.
The six are Mohd Harrif Saleh and brother, Zamri, Anuar Manan, Muhammad Adiq Husainie Othman, Mohd Shahrul Mat Amin and Nur Amirull Fakhruddin Mazuki.
Road sprint specialist Harrif, showed he is recovering well from the hip injury he sustained at the Tour of Korea last month when he won the opening stage and came in third in the second at the Tour of the Great South Coast.
Previously, Harrif won two gold medals at the Singapore Sea Games to end a decade-long gold drought for Malaysia on the road.
A drastic step by MNCF was to recall Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi, who withdrew from the national team before, and he will be entering the team’s time trial alongside three youngsters – Muhammad Ameer and Muhammad Ameen Ahmad Kamal as well as Nik Mohd Azwan Zulkifle.
In the women’s category, Jupha will be the one to look out for as she aims to go for gold in the criterium after only managing a bronze medal in 2015 when Singapore played host to the games.
The 24-year-old is also set to start in two more categories which include mass start and omnium.
In BMX, national coach Mohd Arif Syukri Ahmad Sabti is entrusting Ahmad Syazrin Awang Ilah, Muhammad Elmi Jumari, Noor Quraataina Mamat and Ariana Nurminda Ariffin the task of bringing home the gold.
Syazrin and Quraataina are both the national champions for the men’s and women’s categories, respectively for the year 2017.
Road will be the first cycling event to be contested at the Sea Games when it takes place on August 21-24. This will see cyclists go through Putrajaya and Nilai where five gold medals are up for grabs.
Next will be BMX that is set to take place on August 26 where two gold medals are on offer and will be contested at the National BMX Arena in Nilai.
Track cycling will commence on August 27-29 at the newly built National Velodrome in Nilai where 13 events will be contested.