SINGAPORE - With determination, tenacity and a little dose of luck, cyclist Ang Kee Meng earned for himself a place among the world's elite.
The 27-year-old undergraduate will become the first Singaporean to compete at the International Cycling Union (UCI) Track Cycling World Cup when the 2013-2014 cycling season begins next month.
Said Ang, who will set foot and wheel on the hallowed Manchester Velodrome in Britain for the Nov 1-3 race: "Racing against the Europeans is really a dream come true. I will do my best, try as much as I can and hope to have a good experience."
The rider, who is part of the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team developmental squad, won most of the points needed to qualify for the three-legged World Cup series at March's Asian Cycling Championships.
Then, at the Indira Gandhi Velodrome in New Delhi, Ang finished seventh out of 15 competitors in the 30km points race.
The slowest competitors were overlapped and eliminated as the race around the 250m track went on, and Ang managed to hang on as the last surviving finisher.
Said the Singapore Institute of Management University student: "My mind was blank throughout the race. I was just hanging on for dear life.
"It was all very messy, and I didn't know which placing I was in."
Fortunately, team principal Daniel Loy, who was watching from the sidelines, shouted at him to seize an opportunity in the final 10 laps to make up for lost ground.
While the race leaders were trying to catch a breather, waiting to see who among them would attack first, Ang took the chance and embarked on a solo sprint, covering significant ground which helped him last the entire race without getting eliminated.
Said the rider: "They were marking one another, and I was not a threat to them, so they let me go. It was sheer luck."
Ang also garnered vital points at the Kuala Lumpur leg of the South-east Asian Grand Prix Series in June, when he finished sixth. Loy, who added that he will sign Ang onto the senior team next year, wants the rider - who now weighs more than 80kg - to shed some weight to be more competitive.
He said: "He has a very strong power output, so if he can cut weight to about 75kg he will be very competitive."
Ang hopes that his English exposure - mixing it up with the likes of Britain's Olympic gold-medallists Steven Burke and Ed Clancy at Manchester - will help him to qualify for next year's Asian Games.
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