THE improvement on her personal best in the women’s 3km individual pursuit was definitely the highlight of last season for national track cyclist Uracca Leow, 20.
She has learnt more than tricks of the trade to reduce her time on the track. Her training stint in Australia last year has also armed her with a positive attitude towards valuing her family.
Being away from home for almost nine months of the year, she treasures her family’s unconditional love in seeing her excel in her competitive cycling career at international level.
“Being away has made me appreciate my family’s support more. I used to argue a lot with my family, especially my father,'' said Uracca, the elder of two siblings.
Uracca’s mother Irene Wong recalled that Uracca had found it difficult to adapt to her new surroundings when she joined the Bukit Jalil Sports School at the age of 15.
“Despite her predicaments, we told her to persevere and focus on her goals,” said Wong, 48.
Although Uracca realises that she has not won anything major after she broke into the senior team two years ago, she is pleased with her steady progress to improve her timing on the track, especially in the women’s 3km individual pursuit.
After registering her personal best of 3:50.146 and third fastest in the women’s 3km individual qualifying round at the Asian Games in Doha, she missed out on the podium when she finished second best in the ride for the bronze medal.
She clocked her previous personal best of 3:54.818 at the opening leg of the Track World Cup in Sydney in November.
“We did not expect her to go so far when she took up cycling at the age of 12. She started with the Pedalphiles Cycling Club , which is a very family orientated club. Initially, we thought it was just going to be a healthy social pursuit,” said Uracca’s father Leow Poh Sen, 54.
Leading up to the Asian Games in Doha last year, she was under the tutelage of Australian John Beasley in Melbourne from July to December.
Earlier, she was based in Perth between January and March as a build up for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
“I am getting a lot better with the overseas training. Training with a group of top riders inspired me to give my best. Their training methods has motivated me to push harder to keep up with them,” said Uracca, who trains under the National Sports Council programme.
This season, she will be eyeing to qualify for the World Track Championships to be held in Spain from March 29 to April 1.
“I need to accumulate points at the fourth Track World Cup in Manchester (United Kingdom) in February to earn a place to feature at the World Championships.”
Among the major events she is expected to compete include the Asian Cycling Championships in United Arab Emirates and the SEA Games in Thailand.
“I still have a lot to learn, especially in the women’s points race. Although I am mentally stronger, I need to learn to get into the right position at the right time,” said Uracca, adding that she needs to work on her power and core strength.
Her ultimate goal is to feature in three Olympics starting with the Olympics in Beijing next year.
“My dream is to train in Europe to scale greater heights. But I need to lay a strong foundation first before I head towards that direction,” said Uracca, who will be celebrating her 21st birthday at the end of January.