CYCLIST Irwandie Lakasek has not celebrated Hari Raya Aidilfitri with his family for the last four years due to his commitments with the national track team.
But he’s glad that his sacrifices have not been in vain after he relied on an energetic final sprint to deliver the first gold for Malaysia in track cycling at the National Velodrome in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, yesterday.
The 22-year-old stormed to the front and held off Thailand’s Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn to win the men’s 15km scratch final race.
Roared on by the crowd, Irwandie sprinted away at the end of the 56-lap race to cap a perfect SEA Games debut.
Thailand’s Thanawut Sanikwathi beat the second Malaysian, Afiq Huznie Othman, to the bronze.
“The last four years have been tough as I missed out on celebrating Hari Raya with my family in Kemaman, Terengganu.
“But this gold is proof that it’s all been worth it. There were different reasons why I had to miss out on celebrating Hari Raya. The first three years I had to compete in the World Junior Championships. This year, I was in Melbourne training from March to July in preparation for the SEA Games.
“Afiq also fought hard to help me today.
“It’s my first SEA Games and to win the first gold in track cycling in our first indoor velodrome makes it extra special,” said Irwandie, who won the Asian Cycling Championships scratch event in the junior ranks in 2013 in India.
Afiq was happy for Irwandie.
“It doesn’t matter who wins as long as Malaysia gets the gold. I still have the team pursuit on Tuesday to look forward to,” said Afiq.
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