PETALING JAYA: Cyclist Mohd Fadhil Zonis went one step better to deliver a stunning win in keirin to make Hong Kong a happy hunting ground for Malaysia.
The 23-year-old hit the front with two laps to go and held the position until the end to win a thrilling final race ahead of the top two Japanese specialists Yuta Wakimoto and Yudai Nitta in the Track Cycling Nations Cup at the Hong Kong Velodrome yesterday.
Fadhil had won a silver in the 1km time trial a day ago.
Olympics-bound Wakimoto and Nitta, who are world championships silver medallists for Japan in 2020 and 2019, finished second and third respectively while reigning Asian Games champion Jai Angsuthasawit of Thailand finished fourth.
Fadhil had a rough start earlier when he was forced to win the reperchage to advance to the second round.
He made it to the top-six final after finishing third in the second round heat won by Nitta before saving his best for the last.
Malaysia have also done well in Hong Kong before when Fadhil’s illustrious senior Azizulhasni Awang romped to a historic keirin win in the World Track Cycling Championships in 2017.
Fadhil was just happy to get it right in his first international competition in more than a year after being stranded in Kuala Lumpur because of Covid-19 restrictions.
He was supposed to return to Melbourne to train alongside Azizul and Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom under coach John Beasley in March last year but could not get his visa renewed in time as Australia had shut its borders.
“I am over the moon as I never thought that I will be on the podium twice. There was a window of opportunity during the keirin final and I gave my all, ” said Fadhil.
“It’s good to repeat what Azizul did here (Hong Kong Velodrome) when he became the world champion although mine is a different competition.
“I am really happy with the outcome. I believe in the process and it takes patience, persistence and perseverance to achieve this result.
“This is my first-ever podium finish in this newly named Nations Cup (formerly known as World Cup), ” said Fadhil, who was also grateful to the Youth and Sports Ministry for preparing a sports bubble for the team to continue training.
Fadhil’s campaign in Hong Kong, however, came to an end later yesterday after he was eliminated in the sprint quarter-finals by Wakimoto.
Anis made it a double joy for Malaysia over the Hari Raya weekend when she posted 35.493 to finish third in the women’s 500m time trial while 2020 world meet bronze medallist, Italian Miriam Vece (34.022) and Spaniard Helena Casas Roige (34.903) made a 1-2 finish respectively.