Fatehah Mustapa (left) created history as the first Malaysian woman track cyclist to medal at a World Cup meet when she clinched the keirin silver in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday. - AFP
PETALING JAYA: Fatehah Mustapa rode into the history books as the first Malaysian woman cyclist to win a medal at the Track World Cup.
After two near misses in the previous legs, Fatehah got her act together this time to bag silver behind London Olympic bronze medallist Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong in the keirin final at the Mexican city of Guadalajara on Sunday.
It was a historic day for Malaysian cycling as she is not just the first woman cyclist but the first to stand on the World Cup podium since Azizulhasni Awang’s bronze medal in keirin in the Manchester leg of the 2012 season.
The Terengganu-born Fatehah finished second in her first round heat to gain an automatic spot in the top six final, thus saving her the need to go through the repechage.
And she was able to keep her energy to push for a career first World Cup medal in the end.
Wai Sze was out of her reach but Fatehah managed to stay in front of French cyclist Sandie Clair to earn her breakthrough.
Fatehah was delighted to stamp her mark on the world meet after years of grinding it out.
“I joined the elite team training in Melbourne in 2007 and that was also the year I got my first exposure at the World Cup.
“I was jealous then to see my team-mates Jojo (Azizul) and Josiah (Ng) climbing the World Cup podium.
“I came close in the last round in Aguascalientes last month (she was fourth) and I wondered when my time would come.
“The competition gets stiffer with each passing year as it is now the route to the Olympics.
“I was in disbelief as I crossed the finish line and glanced up at the scoreboard to see my name in second position.
“This medal is for coach John (Beasley) for taking care of us. He’s the coach, team manager and mechanic as well.
“I saw him smiling as I crossed the finish line and I feel so happy that he has brought me to this stage,” said Fatehah from Mexico.
Fatehah also reached the final in the season opener in Manchester last November, finishing sixth. Her impressive campaign in the 2013-2014 season has won her second placing in the overall standings for women’s keirin behind Wai Sze.
Fatehah will now be heading to the Track World Championships in Cali at the end of February with newfound confidence.
Azizul, who was disqualified in the final of the keirin on Saturday, failed in his bid to reach the knockout rounds of sprint.
Azizul posted 10.052 to place 20th in qualification, with only the top 16 going for the elimination stages.