Monday, September 10, 2007

Cycling: A limp show by Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: It all went wrong for Malaysia on the first day of the road competition in the Asian Cycling Championships in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand yesterday.

The four Malaysian cyclists in action not just finished out of the medals in the individual road time trial competitions but worse still, they were outpaced by South-East Asian rivals from Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Nurul Akmar finished eighth in the junior women’s 15km time trial while Mohd Shahrul Mat Amin ended last in a field of 15 riders in the junior men’s 30km individual time trial.

Masziyaton Mohd Radzi was eighth in the senior women’s individual time trial (30km) and Safwan Sawai 14th out of 17 riders in the senior men’s individual time trial (42km).

The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) sent the riders from the development squad for the road races this time. Although they were not expected to challenge for the medals, their performances are still cause for concern, especially with the Korat SEA Games in Thailand just three months away.

Malaysia chalked a double when they won both men’s and women’s individual road race titles in the Manila SEA Games through Suhardi Hassan and Noor Azian Alias two years ago but if the displays from the opening day are of any indication, the current batch are in for a heavy beating this time.

Malaysian team manager Datuk Naim Mohamad, who is also MNCF deputy president, said the disappointing show prompted MNCF to recall riders like Ng Yong Li and Fauzan Lufti, who are currently based in Europe, to beef up the road team for the Korat Games.

“It’s a wake-up call for Malaysia if the results from the time trials mean anything to us.

“We finished not just behind the Indonesians, the Thais, the Filipinos but also the Vietnamese riders in the senior competition. The SEA Games are approaching and there is a lot of work for us to do to emulate the good results in Manila.

“Although our cyclists are doing 10kms in training, the power is not there.

“It looks like we have to depend on the overseas-based riders like Yong Li and Fauzan to strengthen the road team,” said Naim from Thailand yesterday.

The juniors’ individual road race events will be staged today and the senior events tomorrow.

The Star

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