PETALING JAYA: It’s crunch time for Malaysian track cyclist Fatehah Mustapa.
She needs to rise to the occasion in her next two competitions – the Asian Cycling Championships in Shizuoka, Japan, next week and the World Track Championships in London from March 2-6 – if she does not want to miss out on the keirin event at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
These are the last two competitions to get ranking points for the Olympics.
As it stands, Fatehah - the 2014 Asian Games silver medallist - is in a very precarious position in the Olympic ranking for women’s keirin.
In the latest ranking, after the conclusion of the final Track World Cup meet in Hong Kong, Fatehah is down in 13th spot on 466 points, with two China cyclists ahead of her – Lin Junhong (11th, 560pts) and Zhong Tianshi (12th, 503pts).
World Cup overall winner Guo Shuang of China tops the ranking with 845 points and Hong Kong’s Lee Wai Sze (792pts) is in second spot. South Korea’s Lee Hye-jin is in sixth position on 651 points.
With Malaysia not competing in the team sprint in the Olympic qualification process, Fatehah has no choice but to aim for the top two quota slots allocated to Asia for individual sprint and keirin.
The two slots are only given out to countries who fail to qualify for the team sprint.
Hye-jin, who finished fourth in the keirin final at last weekend’s Track World Cup in Hong Kong, will join London Olympic bronze medallist Wai Sze as the ones taking up the two keirin slots reserved for Asia – unless Fatehah can finish ahead of the young Korean at the Asian meet and world meet.
Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad admitted things do not look good for Fatehah, who has been hampered by a back problem this year.
“Fatehah has a good chance to qualify for sprint at the Olympics, but it is in keirin that she has a much better chance of achieving something,” Naim said.
The 27-year-old Fatehah won the Asian keirin title in Kuala Lumpur in 2012, but finished fifth in Korat last year.
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