PETALING JAYA: The national para cyclists may have to take a longer route to resume training but they do not mind toughing it out.
The cyclists have kept their eyes trained on defending the three quota slots virtually in the bag for Malaysia at the Tokyo Paralympics next year.
Malaysia are ranked second behind China in the Asian continental rankings with the qualification spots for para track cycling but are ahead of Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Iran.
The para cyclists have been travelling daily from their cluster camp in Bukit Jalil to the National Velodrome in Nilai for almost two weeks under the Road to Tokyo Paralympic training programme.
The para cyclists are part of the select group of athletes allowed to resume training early although under strict restrictions.
“Quota slots for para cycling at the Tokyo Paralympics go to the country and not the individual. It’s historic for Malaysia to secure three slots, we hope to defend our position.
“The Road Para Cycling World Championships in Belgium was supposed to be the last event to pick up ranking points but it has been cancelled, so we have to wait until next year as there are not likely to be any events this year because of the Covid-19 situation, ” said para cycling coach Salehuddin Mohd Noh.
Cycling governing body UCI will probably use the Para Cycling World Cup early next year as the replacement for collecting ranking points for the Tokyo Paralympics.
Salehuddin added the cyclists stay motivated despite having been out of track for some time.
“Our para cyclists have not stopped training even after the movement control order (MCO) started in mid-March. They trained on rollers at home and we monitored their fitness levels as we did not want their performance to drop drastically when training resumed.
“Seven para cyclists, including two medal winners from the Para Cycling World Championships, are in the Road to Tokyo Paralympics programme. Tokyo Paralympic hopeful Mohd Hafizi Shaharuddin rode his way to bronze in the men’s C1 scratch race event at the para track cycling world meet in Milton, Canada, in February.
Also back in training mode is Afiq Afify Rizan and able bodied pilot Khairul Adha Rasol who took bronze in the men’s tandem (B) sprint event at the 2017 edition in Los Angeles - the first time Malaysia made the podium at the world meet.
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