PETALING JAYA: John Beasley is more than just a coach to national track cyclists Azizulhasni Awang and Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom.
Having worked with the Malaysian cyclists in Melbourne since 2006, Beasley has gone on to forge a close rapport with his cyclists, not just making them believe in themselves but keeping them together as a close-knit family.
And there was certainly no better compliment than the ones offered by the two Tokyo-bound cyclists on Facebook when Beasley celebrated his 59th birthday on Tuesday.
Shah Firdaus, who recently took the keirin title at the Australia National Track Championships in Brisbane, paid tribute to his coach for the last few years.
“Happy birthday to this man @johnbeasley. He pulled me up for being slack and helped me improve on what I lack, who pushed me beyond my limits but deep down inside, I know that is the only way to cultivate a winning spirit.
“He is more than a coach, he is a father. Thanks for believing in me since day one or when I was down and out. Thanks for trusting me when even I had my own doubts.
“Happy birthday John! May you live longer and happier. You are loved, ” said Shah Firdaus, who will be making his Olympics debut in Tokyo in July.
His mentor and training partner Azizul also paid tribute to his long-time coach.
“Happy birthday to the guy who always stand by my side, doesn’t matter whether I am winning or losing.
“The guy who has influenced me a lot in my career and life. The guy who thought me to always be humble.
“The guy who is also my father figure and my kids’ Aussie Pop. He is not just the best coach in the world but also an amazing human being I’ve ever known, ” said the former world keirin champion rider.
A touched Beasley said what he wished for is also what Malaysia hopes to achieve.
Not just to help realise the first Olympic gold medal dream for Malaysia but in his words: “I would love nothing better than to help the Malaysians (like Azizul and Shah Firdaus) realise how good they can be.”