Young cyclists need more races to develop into strong contenders


Pushing the limits: Mohd Fadhil Zonis in action during the men’s 1km time trial final at the Lee Valley Velodrome. — AP

THE lack of racing experience over the last two years put the young Malaysian cyclists at a disadvantage in their bid to be competitive at the Commonwealth Games.

Malaysia closed their campaign in track cycling on a quiet note when Mohd Fadhil Zonis settled for 10th spot in the men’s 1km time trial on Monday.

Fadhil, the Asian Championships silver medallist, posted 1:01.734 at the Lee Valley Velodrome.

Mohd Ridwan Sahrom, 21, the younger brother of Shah Firdaus, was 14th overall on 1:03.093.

Australia claimed the gold and silver through Matthew Glaetzer (59.505) and Thomas Cornish (1:00.036).

Trinidad and Tobago’s Nicholas Paul (1:00.089) completed the podium.

Anis Amira Rosidi and Nurul Izzah Izzati Mohd Asri did not make it past the first round of the women’s keirin.

Anis finished second while Izzah was third in their respective repechage heats.

Only the winner in each heat advanced to the next round.

Shah Firdaus, who has been training for a few years with Tokyo Olympic Games silver medallist Azizulhasni Awang in Melbourne, was the brightest performer when he delivered bronze in keirin last weekend for the team’s only medal in Birmingham.

Coach John Beasley said there have been little racing opportunities in Asia over the last two years because of Covid-19 and that affected the development of the up-and-coming riders.

“Ridwan rode quite well I thought, you have to understand that he was up against some of the very best in the world. The only ones missing are the Dutch, this was a very deep world-class field and he is still very young, give him a couple more years,” said Beasley.

“Ridwan still has a lot to learn and that is why he is here, he has the talent, just allow us the time to develop him as we have done with Shah.

“It is the same with the two young women, Nurul Aliana (Syafika Azizan) and Izzah. The pandemic has not been kind to their development as they have not been allowed to travel and races have been cancelled. It is only now that things are slowly starting to open up again.

“But there is still little racing opportunities in Asia compared to Europe. This is hurting their development and that is why you need to give us more time to be able to get the races we need into our young athletes so that they can progress,” said Beasley.

He said the same about Fadhil, who also did not have a spectacular outing.

Fadhil was eliminated in the early rounds of the keirin.

“Fadhil had the legs but he just did not execute well, again that comes from not having enough competitions. He still lacks the skill and confidence to execute well and make the right decisions at the right time, but he’ll be fine.”

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