Surprise on the mount as Kun Pan romps to gold ahead of more fancied riders

PHI Kun Pan showed that Nurul Izzah Izzati Mohd Asri is not the only cycling gem from Kedah.Golden ride: Kedah’s Phi Kun Pan posing with her top prize and bike.Golden ride: Kedah’s Phi Kun Pan posing with her top prize and bike.

Kun Pan, competing in the mountain bike category, made heads turn by romping to a surprise gold on the final day of the Malaysia Games (Sukma).

The 19-year-old, who comes from the Thai community in Baling, won the women’s Olympic cross country event at Taman Cabaran in Putrajaya yesterday.

Kun Pan completed the race in 1’20:44 to leave two Federal Territories cyclists to settle for the lesser medals.

Nur Deena Safia Nor Effandy, the daughter of former Commonwealth Games silver medallist rider Nor Effandy Rosli, took silver with 1’24:35 ahead of teammate Nurzarina Zaki, who posted 1’26:53.

Only four out of 16 competitors completed the race under hot and humid conditions. The race is over once a cyclist is overlapped by the leader.

Kun Pan’s success ensured that Kedah retained the gold in the event won by Izzah at the last Sukma in Ipoh four years ago.

Kun Pan is glad her decision to switch from athletics to cycling after attending secondary school has paid off.

“I have to thank my teacher and coach Nur Alfiza for the decision as I was a middle distance runner before,” said Kun Pan, who won gold in the junior points race event at the Asia Cup in Thailand last year.

“I’ve already won two bronzes in the road race individual and team events, so I’m really happy to strike it big in the last event on the last day. We’ve prepared well in the last two months. In fact, we even trained at this venue.

“The plan was for me to break away from the pack and I’m happy we managed to do that,” said Kun Pan, who finished out of the medals four years ago.

Terengganu’s Zulfikri Zulkifli, 20, took gold in the men’s Olympic cross country in 1’30:22.

Mohd Fahmi Khairul got silver for FT in 1:30:35 ahead of Perak’s bronze medallist Mohd Syawal Mazlin (1’34:53). Mountain bike Olympic cross countryMen: 1. Zulfikri Zulkifli (Ter) 1’30:22, 2. Mohd Fahmi Khairul (FT) 1:30:35, 3. Mohd Syawal Mazlin (Prk) 1’34:53. Women: 1. Phi Kun Pan (Ked) 1’20:44, 2. Nur Deena Safia Nor Effandy (FT) 1’24:35, 3. Nurzarina Zaki (FT) 1’26:53.

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