Muhammad Firdaus Zonis (front) in a file photo. He was tops in the 200m sprint qualifying at the Asian Cycling Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan.
PETALING JAYA: Things are looking good for Muhammad Firdaus Zonis as he attempts to become the first rider to defend all three individual sprint crowns.
After giving Malaysia something to cheer about on Thursday at the Asian Cycling Championships (ACC) in Astana, Kazakhstan, with his first gold from the men’s junior 1km time trial (a new Asian record), the 17-year-old continued to sizzle on Friday.
Firdaus, who also led Malaysia to claim the silver in the men’s junior team sprint, underlined his intention to win his second title of the competition at the Sayarka Velodrome by emerging tops in the 200m sprint qualifying.
He crossed the finish line in 10.473 to finish ahead of arch-rival Jung Jaehee of South Korea (10.497) and Taiwan’s Kang Shih Feng (10.688).
Firdaus will have his younger brother, Fadhil and Mohd Shariz Effendi Mohd Shahrin, who finished seventh and eighth respectively, as company in the last-eight.
“I’m delighted to not only qualify for the next round of the sprint event, but also because I improved on my personal best,” said Firdaus, who idolises Britain’s great Chris Hoy.
“My timing has also rewritten the national junior record held by Azizulhasni (Awang).
“It’s certainly a massive boost for me as I defend both my sprint and keirin titles, having already defended the 1km time trial.
“I will continue giving my very best for the country.”
Meanwhile, it was not so promising for national women’s track cyclist Fatehah Mustapa as she kicked off her ACC campaign in uninspired fashion after failing to defend her sprint crown.
The 25-year-old Terengganu-born lass was eliminated by Japan’s Kayono Maeda 2-0 in the quarter-finals on Friday, before settling for fifth place.
In the 5th-8th classification race, Fatehah came out tops in the four-rider battle beating South Korea’s Kim Wongyeong, Takako Ishi of Japan and Atousa Abbasimoghanaki of Iran.
Fatehah’s failure summed up a gloomy day for the Malaysian camp as they ended the second day of competition empty-handed.
In the junior women’s sprint, Farina Shahwati Adnan also had to settle for fifth after failing to advance to the semi-finals, while Sofian Nabil Omar Mohd Bakri did not finish the men’s points race.
Sofian, alongside team-mates Amir Mustafa Rusli and Muhd Adiq Husainie Othman, also took part in the team pursuit race, where they finished a disappointing seventh.