PETALING JAYA: National track coach John Beasley has identified no less than 12 riders as potential winners in the keirin event at the Olympic Games.
And so, cyclists Azizulhasni Awang and Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom have been tasked with extra homework in the form of race analysis sessions after dinner ahead of the race from Aug 7-8 at Izu Velodrome.
“We have been doing our homework vigilantly by studying the strengths and weaknesses of these dozen rivals and comparing them with ours,” said the Australian, who will be flying off with the two cyclists end of this month.
“We have to come up with different strategies as we are not in control of their (rivals) preparations.
“Honestly, we do not know what shape they are going to turn up in, especially in this Covid-19 world at the moment.
“But we do know what condition we are in, and focus on managing that.
“Everyone who takes to the start line is a threat. If he can qualify for the Olympics, he is a very good rider.”
Beasley did not name any of the rivals but it is likely to be the riders from Holland, England, New Zealand, German and Australia, who are seen as serious medal contenders in Tokyo.
Dutchman Harrie Lavreysen, who swept the sprint (individual and team) and keirin gold medals at the World Track Cycling Championships in Berlin early last year, is the favourite in Tokyo.
Dutch compatriot Jeffrey Hoogland was beaten to the gold by Lavreysen in the sprint and is also going to feature in the keirin as well.
There is also the reigning Commonwealth Games champion Matthew Glaetzer of Australia and defending Olympics champion Jason Kenny of England, who are known to peak when it comes to major competitions.
Japanese duo Yuta Wakimoto and Yudai Nitta, who are world championships silver medallists in keirin, are also expected to be serious threats on home soil.