Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NST - Cycling: Back-up riders coming good

IT is looking good for the national back-up programme after some surprisingly solid performances in the ACC Track Asia Cup that ended in Yokohama, Japan on Sunday.
The new team sprint combination of Junaidi Nasir, Hafiz Sufian and Harrif Salleh were good enough to take the silver medal, losing out to Japan in the final, proving that their task of delivering medals in the Asian Championships isn't too big of an ask.

The new team pursuit quartet of Akmal Amrun, Adiq Hussaini Othman, Zamani Mustarudin and Amir Mustafa Rusli also showed marked improvement with a bronze medal performance in a time of 4:27.503s, beating Hong Kong in the shootout for third placing.

"The team were in good spirit throughout. They seemed like they really enjoyed every bit and that is a good sign.

"Although expectations were not high, the team showed some promising results," said national back-up coach Fairoz Izni Abdul Ghani.
"The new team pursuit quartet, for example, clocked their fastest time on a 400m outdoor track and this combination has only recently been set up.

"Akmal also surprised us with his 1km time trial time. He wasn't supposed to do the event but we asked him if he could try as the packed schedule on Sunday meant Junaidi and Hafiz had to focus on the keirin and team sprint.

"We never expected Akmal to be able to do a good time, since he hasn't focused on the 1km for a long time, but he managed 1:06.754s to finish fourth and that was impressive."

The team sprint trio clocked a time of 1:16.712s to lose out by almost three seconds to Japan in the gold medal race, but Fairoz saw some promise there.

"We saw that Japan and South Korea came with some new riders and some of those we know.

"We've taken a little bit longer to blood our back-up riders, but from here it looks like we can continue to build," added Fairoz.

Adiq Hussaini finished fifth in a closely contested points race, which was won by Hong Kong's 2007 world scratch race champion Wong Kam Po.

Hafiz was the third fastest qualifier in the 200m sprint with a time of 10.680s, which was just short of Japan's Tomohiro Fukuya, who clocked 10.612s for the fastest time.

Both Hafiz and Junaidi made it through to the knockout stages, but were both knocked out in the first round, Hafiz in three match sprints by South Korean Kim Yong Hae and Junaidi by Hong Kong's Wong Kin Chung.

Malaysia's sole woman, Nurul Ahmar Badeuzzaman finished fourth in the points race, while Hafiz would have made it another medal had he not been illegally bundled out of the final by Taiwan's Liao Kuo Lung.

Liao was disqualified from the final for body-charging Hafiz in the final lap which eventually saw Japan's Yudai Nitta and Kota Asai bag a one-two finish ahead of South Korea's Jun Won Gu.

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