Japan tops in mountain biking

MALACCA: Japan, with a final haul of three golds and a couple of silvers, emerged overall champions at the two-day 15th Asian Mountain Bike Championships run simultaneoulsy with the inaugural Asian Junior meet here recently.

Organised by the Asian Cycling Confederation and hosted by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF), the meet came under the purview of the International Cycling Union and was registered as a conti­­­­nental championships.

In all, 210 bikers from Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, China-Taipei, Hong Kong, China, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Vietnam, Nepal, South Korea, Brunei, Iran and hosts Malaysia were in the fray.

Thrilling speed, skid screeches, tumbles and stumbles were plentiful as the riders went down the Taman Muzaffar Height and Ayer Keroh Recreational Forest trails.

Taking the spotlight for Japan were Kasui Shimisu, Mio Suemasa and Koohei Yamamoto who came out tops in the Men’s Junior Downhill, Women’s Elite Downhill and Men’s Elite Cross Country disciplines respectively.

Thailand finished second best overall with three golds and a silver while Indonesia took third rung with a solitary medal each in gold, silver and bronze colours.

Hosts Malaysia managed only two bronze medals, through the efforts of Mohd Aim Mohd Fauzi in the Men’s Junior Downhill and Jerry Jemi Jeoffrey in the Men’s Junior Cross Country events.

MNCF president Abu Samah Wahab said that Malaysian riders had a lot of catching up to do if they were to give seasoned campaigners Japan, China, Thailand and South Korea a run for their money in future competitions at Asian level.

For Thailand, it was the sterling performances of Veepavee Deekaballes (Men’s Junior Downhill), Natawat Supachiwakun (Men’s Junior Downhill) and Siriluck Warapiang (Women’s Junior Cross Country) that gave Japan a keen fight for medals and overall honours.

Based on these results, a MNCF official said that Malaysia’s chances of getting high on the medal standing in the mountain bike competition at the upcoming Laos SEA Games next month looks bleak.

The squad for the Laos Games was yet to be finalised by MNCF, and the performances by the national riders in Malacca might open the way for several promising juniors to take the step up at the upcoming regional games, the official added.

Competing against the top guns from Japan and Thailand, the local junior who appeared to have the most potential was Norshahriel Ahmad Nazali, besides the medallists. He finished fourth in the Men’s Junior Downhill.

RESULTS MEN’S ELITE DOWNHILL 1. Popo Ario Sejati (Indonesia) 2’39.5 2. Naoki Idegawa (Japan) 2’43.6 3. Tanaphon Jarupeng (Thailand) 2’50.3

MEN’S JUNIOR DOWNHILL 1. Kazuki Shimizu (Japan) 2’56.0 2. Hildan Atosma Katana (Indonesia) 2’57.3 3. Mohd Aim Mohd Fauzi (Malaysia) 3’5.7

MEN’S ELITE CROSS COUNTRY 1. Kohei Yamamoto (Japan) 1’45.6 2. Chan Chung Hing (Hong Kong) 1’46.1 3. Kirill Kazantsev (Kazakhstan) 1’48.0

MEN’S JUNIOR CROSS COUNTRY 1. Natawat Supachiwakun (Thailand) 1’06:2 2. Chun Chung Luk (Hong Kong) 1’08:4 3. Jerry Jemie Jeoffrey (Malaysia) 1’09:0

WOMEN’S ELITE DOWNHILL 1. Mio Suemasa (Japan) 3’01.6 2. Risa Suseanty (Indonesia) 3’16.9 3. Aussanee Pradupyard (Thailand) 3’29.1

WOMEN’S JUNIOR DOWNHILL 1. Veepavee Deekaballes (Thailand) 3’42.4 2. Quyen Bui Thi (Vietnam) 4’47.9 3. Wu Kuan Hui (China-Taipei) 5’32.8

WOMEN’S ELITE CROSS COUNTRY 1. Ren Chengyuan (China) 1’41:4 2. Rie Katayama (Japan) 1’44:6 3. Liu Ying (China) 1’51:1

WOMEN’S JUNIOR CROSS COUNTRY 1. Siriluck Warapiang (Thailand) 1’01:4 2. Quynh Dinh Thi Nhu (Vietnam) 1’03:3 3. Yoo Da Jeong (S. Korea) 1’05:2

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