Wheels of golden fortune roll from Rio to Tokyo

PETALING JAYA: When Azizulhasni Awang won the bronze medal in the keirin at the 2016 Rio Olympics, he started the wheels moving on a greater mission – the quest for gold in a sport other than badminton.

National track coach John Beasley revealed that the bronze medal celebration didn’t last long. The team quickly got back on track to work on the plan to bring home the gold from Tokyo.

The first part of the plan was to give Azizul – and later his Olympics teammate Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom – the best tools with which to do their job. From this plan came the production of the RM300,000 one-of-a-kind WXR-Vorteq bike (pic) for the two riders.

“Five weeks after winning Malaysia’s first cycling medal at the Olympics, we were in Langkawi for five days to discuss the plans for the next Olympics. The first few days were used to dissect what we did for Rio and the rest was on how to improve for Tokyo, ” said Beasley.

“We knew how fast we needed to go for the gold medal but we needed to know how we were going to find that speed. There was a lot of pitching and plans but securing funds for it was another thing.

“We managed to get the support and then the process began to be better prepared for Tokyo.”

It took three years of research and development before the Malaysian track cycling team received the groundbreaking bike that they will use for the Tokyo Olympics.

The National Science Institute (NSI) collaborated with TotalSim Ltd to produce the WXR-Vorteq bike which was built using cutting edge technology.

Beasley said that after pushing the Malaysian riders to the limit of their physiology, they looked at other areas that could be improved to produce results.

“We started working backward in blocks from the Rio Olympics, see what we wanted to get from the performance. The last Olympics was about physiology to get the athletes faster but we couldn’t get more from their physique anymore, ” said Beasley.

“We could build the power of the riders with gym and track work but we reached the limit. We needed to find gain from other areas and had to look at resistance, friction, and drag in the bike during a race.”

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