Sunday March 10, 2013
Fatehah ousts South Korean to enter elite sprint final
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Malaysian track cyclist Fatehah Mustapa is in line for a sweet birthday celebration after storming her way into the women’s elite sprint final of the Asian Cycling Championships in New Delhi yesterday.
Fatehah defeated South Korean Cho Sun-young in both heats of the semi-finals, thus guaranteeing Malaysia at least a silver medal.
Fatehah was fifth fastest in qualifying and defeated Lee Hye-jin of South Korea in the quarter-finals.
But it’s the gold that’ll be in her sights when Fatehah goes up against China flagbearer Shi Jingjing, who overcame team-mate Li Xuemei also in two heats.
Fatehah will be looking to regain her confidence after a disappointing Olympic debut in London last year in the showdown against Jingjing tomorrow.
The Terengganu-born cyclist turns 23 on Tuesday and will be all fired up to give herself the perfect birthday gift by bagging her first Asian sprint title.
Her path to the final was also made easier by the fact that hot favourite Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong was controversially disqualified in her last eight battle against Sun-young.
It’ll be a busy day for her as she’s also down to defend her Asian title in keirin tomorrow.
“I have a good day’s rest tomorrow (today) and be ready for the challenges. I’ve yet to get into top gear as this is only my first big competition after the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to go back with at least one gold,” said Fatehah, who wrote her way into the history books as the first Malaysian woman cyclist to qualify for the Olympics last year.
Her younger team-mate Ummi Hamimah, however, failed to reach the last eight.
Meanwhile, it’ll be a do-or-die battle for London Olympic keirin finalist Azizulhasni Awang and Josiah Ng as both will fight it out to decide who goes into the semi-finals of the men’s sprint today.
Josiah defeated India’s Amarjeet Singh while Azizul overcame Taiwan’s Hsiao Shih-hsin in their respective last 16 match-ups.
Azizul, in his first competition since the Olympics, was fifth fastest behind Josiah in qualifying earlier.
Muhd Firdaus Mohd Zonis could land a golden double if he continue with his hot pace in the men’s junior sprint quarter-finals.
Firdaus stepped into the last eight with a convincing win over Kazakhstan’s Roman Lentarev.
The 16-year-old, who had won Malaysia’s first gold in the 1km time trial on Thursday, was one of only two cyclists to have dipped below the 11-second mark in qualifying earlier.
He clocked the second fastest time of 10.902, with South Korea’s Jung Jae-hee topping the timesheets at 10.899.
Malaysia have two gold medals to show for at the Asian meet so far. Irwandie Lakasek won the second gold in the men’s junior scratch race on Friday.