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Cyclist has no qualms about taking unpaid leave to ride for country


KUALA LUMPUR: Kudos to Grace Phang (pic) for willing to leave her job just for the chance to don the national colours in the SEA Games.

Grace, who is a banker by profession, did not think twice about taking three months’ unpaid leave to train with the national cycling team for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

She is a senior finance manager with the ANZ Bank in Melbourne, Australia, and has been living off her savings since May when she answered the call-up to join the national track cycling team.

Grace, who settled down in Melbourne a decade ago after graduating, will join Jupha Somnet in the gruelling women’s omnium at the National Velodrome in Nilai on Aug 27.

Although financially hit, she does not regret the decision at all.

“I will be 32 by the end of this year. The SEA Games are being held here and it’s an opportunity of a lifetime for me. I may never get the chance to compete at home again.

“Besides, it’s also good for my resume – to represent my country,” said Grace, who grew up in Taman Tun Dr Ismail here.

Asked how she got into cycling, Grace explained that it was her mode of transport to work and back in Melbourne.

“In Australia, almost everyone rides a bicycle. I cycle to work and I love it.

“It just happened that I knew one of the guys working with the Malaysian track squad, who are based in Melbourne.

“He said ‘why don’t you come and race for us.’ That was in 2012 and I came in third.

“I came back to Malaysia in 2013 and won my first national title,” she recalled.

Grace did not compete in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore because there was no track cycling.

“I’m looking forward to giving my best in the competition. The women’s omnium comprises the scratch, tempo, points and elimination races,” said Grace, who partnered Jupha to a silver in the women’s Madison at the Japan Track Cup 1 in Shizuoka last month.

   

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