KANGAR: News of Kimbeley Yap’s horrific accident resonated loud within the cycling fraternity at the Perlis Malaysia Games (Sukma) here.
Kimbeley, who is planning to make a return to triathlon at the Incheon Asian Games in September, is believed to have been rammed from behind by a car at the Penchala Link in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
The two-time women’s triathlon SEA Games gold medallist was badly injured while cycling back to her home in Damansara Perdana.
The impact caused the 28-year-old to be flung backwards and land behind the car.
Fortunately, the Sarawak-born Kimbeley was properly geared up. She was taken to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre by ambulance for treatment.
Initial CT scan and X-ray reports showed no fracture or internal bleeding.
She, however, suffered a tear on her thigh and calf as well as a long cut on her forehead, which was sutured.
Kedah coach Rosman Alwi, who is here with his Sukma team, was shocked to learn of the accident.
“How could someone hit somebody from behind just like that?” asked Rosman, the Asian 200m sprint champion in 1987.
While Rosman tried to fathom how the accident could have happened, he was quick to point out that a lot of civic awareness should be instilled in other road users regarding the safety of smaller vehicles on the roads, including bicycles.
“Just look around you. Whenever you see a cyclist on the road, rarely do other road users give them adequate space when they are overtaking. In foreign countries, they give at least a three-foot space if they are overtaking.
“Even when I’m training the team, a lorry or a car would often zoom past us ... just inches away from the riders. People need to know that lives are at stake here,” said Rosman.
Terengganu coach Syed Mohd Hussaini Syed Mazlan echoed Rosman’s sentiment, adding that training for cyclists is not something that can be done indoors.
“As the name implies, it is road cycling. While Kimbeley is a multi-sport athlete now, she needs to train on the roads as well,” said Hussaini.
He can relate well to the accident. In October last year, he lost one of his Sukma prospects, Mohamad Asmui Ali @ Awang, in a road accident during training.
Former national cyclist Ng Yong Li is another one who knows first-hand what it feels like to be involved in such a road accident. He was, after all, hit by a motorcycle on the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) during training near Ampang in April 2012. Luckily, he escaped with just bruises.
“The road is my office. Like it or not, I have to be at my office. I have encountered many different types of drivers on the road. One thing for sure is that we have to be more tolerant of others, especially smaller vehicles.
“We must remember that nobody owns the road. Let’s share it together and make it safe for everyone,” said Yong Li.
In KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad blames a lack of cycling culture for the lack of respect for road cyclists.
“In Europe, the US and Australia, there is a cycling culture, unlike here. Road users there have a sense of respect for the cyclists but sadly, that is not the culture here,” said Naim.
“We will have to put more effort into educatation and awareness. There are cycling lanes, and safe zones for cyclists, but the cycling culture in Malaysia is still at the initial stage.
“In Kimbeley’s case, we strongly believe that she, as a professional and experienced cyclist, would have followed all the proper guidelines.”
Kimbeley’s accident is just one in a series of accidents to national and state cyclists over the past few years.
Last year, Mohamad Asmui Ali Awang, a 20-year-old Terengganu state cyclist was killed while training when he fell off his bicycle and was run over by his escort van along the Kuala Terengganu-Kuantan road.
It happened four months after state junior cyclist Muhammad Syafiq Imran Syahril, 15, was run over by a trailer in Kampung Guntung, Tepoh, in Kuala Terengganu.
In 2012, four national cyclists, Mariana Mohamad, Masziyaton Mohd Radzi, Mohd Azri Ahmad and Mohd Aziz Zahit were injured during a selection race for the Asian Cycling Championships when a car swerved into their path in Putrajaya.