Grooming riders for endurance races

Grooming riders for endurance races
Malaysian cyclists (from left) Mohammad Akmal Amrun, Amir Mustafa Rusli, Adiq Husainie Othman and Mohd Harrif Salleh in a file photo. The National Sports Council has teamed up with track head coach John Beasley to produce endurance riders on the track.

The track cycling programme is enjoying a lot of success with the sprint events (keirin, sprint) led by national cyclists Josiah Ng, Azizulhasni Awang and Fatehah Mustapa. However, there's another side of the track that is yet to be explored to its full potential by Malaysians.

Besides the sprint events, more than half of the track events are actually endurance events. Pursuits (both individual and team), scratch, points race, madison and omnium make up the other events on the track.

Malaysia is a force to be reckoned with in the sprint events, but admittedly, we are still lacking in endurance events.

Until today, our endurance riders are just making up the numbers at the World Cup and World Championships events. The only notable Asian country to have made a mark in endurance events thus far is Hong Kong. In 2011, Kwok Ho Ting won the scratch world title in Apeldoorn, Holland.

Realising there is a void, the National Sports Council (NSC) has teamed up with track head coach John Beasley to produce endurance riders on the track. Although it is not a new project and will take years before the endurance team can be counted on to land a medal in the World Cup or World Championships, it has to start somewhere.

"I really believe we have athletes who are ready to forge a strong culture of competitive track endurance cycling that will be able to mix it with the world's best in the coming years. It may be another four years before these athletes bring home some medals, but we will be competitive this year," said Beasley.

Last December, road cyclist Mohd Harrif Salleh of Terengganu Cycling went for a racing stint in Melbourne, in the velodrome.

Harrif is no stranger to the velodrome, though. In 2007 in Bangkok, he won the Asian Championships gold medal in the scratch race. He was also the winner of the event at the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia.

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