Auspicious start in Nilai

NILAI: Five generations of cycling champions assembled on the stage to open the country’s latest national sports arena – the National Velodrome Malaysia – in Nilai.

Datuk Ng Joo Ngan, Rosman Alwi, M. Kumaresan, Josiah Ng and newly-crowned world keirin champion Azizulhasni Awang were present to launch the nation’s first indoor cycling track in a glittering ceremony yesterday.

The velodrome, which took two years to build, will be classified as a UCI Class 1 track.

It is the highest certification by the governing body for cycling, which means the 250m timber spruce track can host World Cup and World Championship events.

The newly-opened track will host the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30 and also the Asean Para Games from Sept 17-23.

The BMX track, situated beside the velodrome, will also host the SEA Games BMX competition.

Malaysia, however, are expected to dominate track cycling, which offers 13 out of the 20 gold medals at stake.

This is also the first indoor track in South-East Asia and can seat up to 2,000 spectators.

Joo Ngan won the country’s first Asian Games gold medal in cycling at the 1970 edition in Bangkok and he’s also a former national coach.

Rosman took part in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics in Los Angeles and Seoul while Kumaresan became the first Malaysian to reach the men’s points race final at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Josiah emulated Kumaresan’s feat by reaching the men’s keirin final in Athens in 2004 while Azizul won the nation’s first cycling Olympic medal – a bronze – in keirin in Rio de Janeiro last year.

All five cycling greats also cycled around the track wearing the national jerseys from their respective eras.

Also gracing the function was Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Mohd Haji Hasan as well as former national cyclists – Shahrudin Jaafar, Ng Joo Pong, Rizal Tisin, Shahrulneeza Razali, Noor Azian Alias and Wong Ah Thiam – also graced the event.

“It’s a historic day in our national sporting scene. We finally have our own national indoor velodrome and I’m happy it has become a reality while I’m still cycling actively,” said the 29-year-old Azizul.

“To be in the company of these legends is something I cherish.

“The country has to continue producing champions for cycling to progress.

“Without them, maybe there is no Azizulhasni Awang today.”

SEA Games 2017