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Wednesday January 2, 2013

Big boost for our cyclists

PETALING JAYA: There is good news for Malaysia as more than one cyclist can compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

There is a change in the qualification process with the ranking points going directly to the cyclist for individual disciplines in track cycling for the 2016 Games.

At the London Olympics last year, each country was only allowed to field one rider for each individual event. Malaysia qualified for two events and Azizulhasni Awang was picked ahead of Josiah Ng (pic) to compete in the men’s individual sprint and keirin. Azizul justified his selection by reaching the keirin final.

Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad was pleased that the International Cycling Federation (UCI) had removed the major gripe by the major cycling nations.

“We had a big headache choosing between Josiah and Azizul for the London Games.

“We had the two best keirin riders in Asia at that time and things might have been different if we could send both to the Olympics.

“But the rules then only allowed one rider from each country to qualify as the ranking points went to the country.

“The UCI recently notified us of the changes for the next Olympics. With the new qualification process, the cyclist will qualify directly for Rio.

“If we have two in the top 16 of the world rankings, then both will qualify,” said Naim.

Naim believes the new qualification process would also help Malaysia gain more places in the women’s races.

Fatehah Mustapa was the first Malaysian woman to qualify for the Olympics when she competed in the keirin in London.

“Besides Fatehah, I believes there is a chance for the younger riders like 18-year-old Ummi Hamimah to qualify for Rio,” said Naim.

To help more Malaysians qualify for the Olympics, the MNCF will organise more meets to help the riders gain ranking points.

“ We will also send our cyclists to compete in all the World Cup legs and World Championships,” said Naim.

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