GLASGOW: Australian John Beasley has been coaching the Malaysian cyclists since 2006 and, in that time, he has formed a close bond with his charges.
It’s not wrong to say that Beasley is more than just a coach to the national cyclists. He has certainly gone beyond that to forge a close rapport with his cyclists, building up their confidence, standing up for them and keeping them together as a close-knit family.
It is these qualities that he hopes will motivate them to success when they begin their campaign in the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow on Thursday.
And being protective about his charges, it was no surprise when he recently used a press conference to take a swipe at world track cycling officials for making decisions that have resulted in the disqualifications of some of his riders in previous races.
He was particularly irked by an incident involving his top cyclist – Azizulhasni Awang.
“At the World Championships (in Cali in February), Azizul had a chance to win a gold but a rider came from behind and they were involved in a spectacular crash,” said the heavy-set Beasley.
“And it was Azizul who was blamed for causing the crash and the commissaire disqualified him
“If Azizul had been racing in a different jersey, this would not have happened. Things like this get on my nerves. Some track officials lose sight of what sport is all about. Despite all these, our cyclists managed to hold their heads high and show good sportsmanship.”
At the same press conference, he became emotional when talking about Josiah Ng’s comeback from a horrible crash. He also spoke highly of how top woman rider Fatehah Mustapa has come a long way from being a troubled cyclists to a world-class rider.
“Right now, I’m just pretty happy with the level of dedication from all the cyclists. It has been rough for some of them,” he said.
Beasley has not set any targets for his cycling team but “I am confident they will make the country proud in Glasgow”.
“Unlike other countries, our team are expected to peak in two majors – the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games (in Incheon, South Korea from Sept 19-Oct 4),” he said.
“That can demand a lot from the athletes.
“No one wants to come back empty-handed from these major Games, but rest assured that if we do get beaten, it will take a good team to do it.
“We do not want to set unrealistic goals but, trust me, our team will make the country proud.”
The cyclists will be taking part in the men’s team sprint and women’s 500m time trial and there is a glimmer of hope that they will get Malaysia off to a brilliant start in the Games.