Wednesday March 13, 2013
Muhd Firdaus’ sparkling performance at Asian meet underlines his precocious talent
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Muhd Firdaus Mohd Zonis could be the latest jewel for the Malaysian cycling team if his breathtaking exploits in the just concluded track competitions at the Asian Cycling Championships in New Delhi are anything to go by.
The Selangor-born lad has raised comparison with London Olympic finalist Azizulhasni Awang as he became only the second cyclist in Asian cycling history to complete the junior sprint treble of 1km time trial, 200m sprint and keirin gold medals.
Firdaus, who is only 16, shattered the championship record of 1:06.493, belonging to Japan’s Hayasaka Shugo, by winning the one-lap discipline in 1:05.758 to deliver the first gold for the Malaysian contingent.
And on Monday, he chalked a sweet double by staying undefeated in the elimination rounds for sprint and keirin, which helped Malaysia to secure their best ever medals haul in Asian championship history.
Azizul achieved the feat when he took part in the 2006 edition in Kuala Lumpur and both are the only ones to achieve the treble in the junior ranks of the Asian meet.
Firdaus’ performance is like a breath of fresh air to the sport in which Malaysia are hoping to uncover more riders in the likes of Azizul and Josiah Ng, who also secured a double by winning the sprint and keirin titles in the senior ranks in New Delhi.
With Irwandie Lakasek triumphing in the scratch race final, the juniors looks set to return with their best ever achievement of four golds at an Asian championships.
Azizul himself also tweeted: “Congrats and salute to my junior Firdaus for repeating my record. He is the next big thing.”
It is imperative Firdaus is groomed properly as he has the physical attributes to be a good sprinter.
Coach John Beasley will surely have plans to bring the youngster to the Malaysian training base in Melbourne as soon as possible.
Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad lauded Firdaus for helping to raise the reputation of Malaysian cycling.
“We are now respected in Asia with what we have achieved. He is only making his debut at the Asian level but his performance impressed countries like Japan, China and Iran.”
Malaysia have collected seven golds, three silvers and seven bronzes so far with Fatehah Mustapa creating history with her first career sprint success at Asian level.
The road competitions begins with medals to be decided in men’s and women’s junior time trial at the Formula One track in New Delhi but the Malaysian cyclists will be hard pressed to achieve what their track counterparts have done over the past five days.