Monday March 11, 2013
Fatehah bags a bronze before sprint showdown
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s Fatehah Mustapa warmed up for her assault on the women’s spint gold today by smashing her own national record and getting a bronze in the Asian Cycling Championships in New Delhi yesterday.
Fatehah, who will celebrate her 23rd birthday tomorrow, clocked 35.681 in the women’s elite 500m time trial to beat her previous personal best of 35.769 when she finished fourth at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010.
Hong Kong’s Lee Wai Sze, the world champion, erased the championship record of 35.187 with a time of 34.310 to take the gold. Shi Jingjing of China bagged the silver by clocking 35.088.
The bronze was a perfect morale booster for Fatehah. Today, she faces Jingjing in the sprint final as well as defending her keirin title.
National coach John Beasley was pleased to see Fatehah on the podium for the second successive year.
“She won the bronze in the 500m time trial in last year’s championships in Kuala Lumpur. This is just as good considering this is her first big competition since the London Olympics last August.
“She was facing world class riders like Wai Sze (also the bronze medallist in keirin at the Olympics). At the moment, Wai Sze is just faster than anyone else in Asia.
“I am happy Fatehah managed to break her own national record. I hope she continues to improve as she grows stronger,” said the Australian in a telephone interview.
Seasoned campaigner Josiah Ng showed he is still a force to be reckoned when he defeated compatriot Azizulhasni Awang to book a place in the semi-finals of the men’s elite sprint.
Josiah, who won the Commonwealth Games gold medal at the same venue three years ago, will face South Korea Choi Lae-seon for a place in the final. Lae-seon upstaged Chinese ace Tang Qi, the fastest qualifier on Saturday, in another last eight match-up.
Azizul, who is competing in his first competition since he made it to the keirin final at the London Olympics, will have no time to ponder over his defeat as he is down for the first round of the keirin today.
The 25-year-old is placed in the same heat with Tang Qi, Lae-seon, Muhd Parash of Iran, Yeong Wai Mun and Hsiao Shih-hsin of Taiwan.