Tuesday March 12, 2013
Golden day for Malaysia at Asian Cycling Championships
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: It was raining gold for Malaysia as the cyclists chalked several firsts on the final day of the track events at the Asian Cycling Championships in New Delhi yesterday.
Fatehah Mustapa started the ball rolling by blazing her way into the history books as the first Malaysian to win the women’s elite sprint title for the first time.
Teenager Muhd Firdaus Mohd Zonis took up the gauntlet as he stormed his way to the men’s junior sprint and keirin titles to take his tally to three following his win in the 1km time trial last Thursday.
Veteran Josiah Ng completed the memorable day by taking the men’s sprint gold medal for the first time in his career. He then went on to successfully defend the keirin title as well to become only the second Malaysian to do so after Azizulhasni Awang.
Fatehah delivered on her promise not to be intimidated by Chinese sprinter Shi Jingjing in their showdown for the coveted women’s sprint title.
Fatehah lost the first heat in the final but bounced back to beat her Chinese rival to force a third heat.
The Chinese appeared to have won the deciding heat, but Fatehah’s dismay turned to joy as her rival was relegated to a silver for a technical infringement.
It was a timely birthday present for Fatehah, who turns 23 today.
But Fatehah, who bagged the bronze in the 500m time trial on Sunday, failed to defend her keirin title. She settled for silver behind London Olympic bronze medallist Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong.
“I am so happy. I came here with no expectations as this was my first competition since the London Olympics. I have to thank my coach (John Beasley) and the support team for their encouragement and making this possible,” said Fatehah, who was the first Malaysian woman cyclist to qualify for the Olympics last August.
India proved to be a happy hunting ground for 33-year-old Josiah as he romped his way to his first sprint success at the Asian level, beating Iran’s Hassanali Varposhti in two heats.
Josiah, who won the keirin gold at the same venue in the Commonwealth Games three years ago, then played his tactics well to get the better of Iranians Mahmood Parash and Mohd Parash, Jun Won-gu of South Korea, Xu Chao of China and Yuta Wakimoto of Japan in the keirin final.
“I was not sure what to expect here as my form dipped after the World Championships in Belarus last month due to all the travelling.
“But I’ve rested a lot since I’ve arrived here and my form came back nicely in time,” said Josiah, who was the only Malaysian hope for keirin after Azizul failed to make it to the top-six final.
Malaysia have collected seven gold medals so far from the track with the road events scheduled to start tomorrow.