PETALING JAYA: Cycling continued to bring Merdeka joy for Malaysia with Muhd Shah Firdaus Sahrom claiming his first UCI Class 1 win in the men’s elite sprint event.
The 23-year-old gave his all to make the final before beating Park Jeone of South Korea in two heats to win the gold medal in the China Track Cup II at the Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing.
Aleksandr Dubchenko of Russia took the bronze medal while Malaysia’s Azizulhasni Awang and Mohd Fadhil Zonis finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Shah Firdaus, who has just recovered from a viral infection sustained in the South-East Asia Track Championships in Nilai last week, was not able to repeat his form in the men’s keirin competition shortly after.
Shah Firdaus failed to make the main final but Mohd Fadhil Zonis stepped up to pip Azizul to the bronze medal.
Sergey Ponomaryov of Kazakhstan won the men’s elite keirin title ahead of Hong Kong’s Law Tsz Chun.
Anis Amira Rosidi, the only Malaysian woman track cyclist taking part, finished sixth in the women’s elite sprint and eighth in the keirin.
Reigning Olympic team sprint champion Zhong Tianshi earned cheers for the hosts by winning the women’s elite keirin gold medal but failed to take the double, beaten in two heats in the sprint final by teammate Lin Junhong.
Anis had won the keirin gold while Azizul claimed a unique double in the men’s elite sprint and keirin at the China Track Cup 1 on Friday.
After finishing empty-handed on Friday, Shah Firdaus was delighted to stand on top of the podium for the first time.
“I did not have a good week in the South-East Asia Track Championships and the National Track Championships as I came down with fever and the attack weakened my body.
“I’m still not 100% fit but I’m in much better condition. Tough grind in the office.
“Sprint and keirin all packed up in one day.
“I’m grateful to secure gold in the sprint but it left me with no legs for keirin.
“It’s an honour to serve the country, ” said the Johor-born cyclist, who described his win as a Merdeka gift to Malaysian sports supporters.
The Malaysian cyclists will return to their training base in Melbourne, Australia, after this to prepare for the Asian Cycling Championships in South Korea early next month.
The Asian meet will be an important assignment as it offers substantial qualification points for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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