PETALING JAYA: The road to the Olympics is going to get much tougher for woman track cyclist Fatehah Mustapa.
Fatehah will no longer call Melbourne her training base as she will instead be training under local coach Junaidi Nasir, who is also the assistant to Australian John Beasley.
Fatehah made the surprise decision to stay back in Kuala Lumpur and will commute to train under Junaidi at the National Velodrome in Nilai with the Olympic qualifying process kicking off with the UCI Track World Cup series starting from next month.
The 29-year-old from Terengganu has been based in Melbourne since 2008 and it remains to be seen if she can regain the form that saw her becoming the only Malaysian to win a medal at the World Cup and also at the Asian Games in Incheon – both silver – back in 2014.
Fatehah also had an oustanding campaign when she raked in four gold medals at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games last year but has since struggled to regain her form.
Her father has been ill lately and it affected her morale to some extent.
Fatehah, who competed in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics, was left out of the recent Asian Games campaign in Indonesia.
“Fatehah is not coming back to Melbourne as she will stay and train under Junaidi.
“She chose to do so for personal reasons and we’re doing our best to support her as she is struggling.
“We’re sending her to race in the India and Thailand legs of the Track Asia Cup series in the next few weeks and we will see how she does.
“But she’s now a long way from her best. I did not pick her for the Asian Games as she would not have been able to win a medal in her current condition.
“Fatehah is a great bike rider but at the moment she has to demonstrate she wants it bad enough,” said Beasley, who will now focus on grooming the younger women riders Farina Shawati Mohd Adnan and Anis Amira Rosidi.
“We need to have someone to take over from Fatehah one day and we’ll do our best to bring up the younger ones.”
Farina, Muhd Shah Firdaus Sahrom and Indonesia Asian Games sprint gold medallist Azizulhasni Awang flew back to Melbourne yesterday to resume training under Beasley after a week’s break.
Anis Amira Rosidi and Mohd Fadhil Zonis will join later as they will be involved in the Sukma (Malaysia Games) track cycling competition in Ipoh next week.