Jupha delivers first gold for Malaysia, thanks to persistence

Jupha Somnet. -Faihan Ghani/The Star

NILAI: Persistence paid off for Jupha Somnet when she finally nailed a big one in her cycling career after previous setbacks.

Jupha delivered the first gold for Malaysia on the first day of the Asian Track Championships at the National Velodrome in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, on Friday.

The 24-year-old aspiring policewoman up­staged favourite Rio Olympian Diao Xiaojuan of Hong Kong to win the women’s elite points race.

Jupha amassed a total of 35 points to take gold ahead of Xiaojuan (25) while Xin Zeng of Taiwan took bronze with 21 points in the 80-lap race.

Jupha is only the second Malaysian woman after Fatehah Mustapa to win gold in the history of the Asian championships.

Fatehah won the keirin event in the 2012 edition held in Kuala Lumpur and repeated the feat by winning the sprint event in New Delhi, India, the following year.

Jupha, who is of Malaysia-Thai parentage, was ecstatic over the breakthrough.

Victory was also sweet for Jupha after missing out on gold at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games last August and also Olympic qualification for Rio in 2016.

At the KL Games, Jupha took two silvers in the criterium and road race. She got a bronze in the women’s omnium.

“I have been trying to win the Asian title since 2014. I missed out on the SEA Games gold despite numerous chances, so I’m very happy to succeed here.

“I was not so confident as I only started to prepare one month ago due to work commitments.

“I took my time at the start as I wanted to see how the race was going to play out.

“When I saw that they were tired, I took my chances and lapped them,” said Perlis-born Jupha, who took bronze (2014 and 2015) and silver (2016).

Malaysia also got a bronze in the men’s junior team sprint event through Muhd Ridwan Sahrom, Amar Danial Masri and Fariz Haikal Mohamad Kadir (47.149) after overcoming South Korea’s Moon Shinjun-seo, Yoo Sang-hyuk and Han Dong-hyeon (47.359) in the third place playoff.

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