WHAT a difference winning a medal at the Asian Games makes for women cyclists Anis Amira Rosidi, Nurul Izzah Izzati Mohd Asri and Nur Aliana Syafika Azizan.
The duo created history by winning the first-ever women’s team sprint medal at the Asian Games track cycling competition in Hangzhou.
The trio took bronze by setting a new national record of 49.025s, triumphing over Taiwan in the bronze medal playoff at Chun’an Jieshou Sports Velodrome.
It also happened to be the only national record broken by a national athlete. But more importantly, the bronze means a significant jump in their monthly allowance.
They were getting around RM800 in monthly allowance but can expect RM2,500 by virtue of being medallists at the Asian stage.
National track cycling coach John Beasley is happy for his charges and felt no one deserved it more than the girls.
“It is unfortunate that track cycling has not been on the SEA Games programme since the Kuala Lumpur edition in 2017. The girls came into the national programme after that and they had no chance to win the gold, which would have put them in a better money scale.
“That’s the situation they are in and this Asian Games was very important for them.
“My heart would have sunk if they had won a medal. They trained very hard for this Games and I am very happy they achieved their goal.
“This is a very young team ... the women. The two Nuruls are 20-year-olds and Anis is 25, so I am very proud with what they did in the team sprint,” said Beasley, who also had praise for the men’s team sprint trio comprising Mohd Fadhil Zonis, Mohd Ridwan Sahrom and Umar Hasbullah for grabbing bronze for Malaysia.
“We have a 19-year-old (Umar) and a 22-year-old (Ridwan) while Fadhil is 26 but he led the young ones really well.
“The boys had to regroup after the second ride and they pulled it together to ride their fastest time.”
It was not meant to be for Ridwan’s elder brother Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom as he had to come back from a relegation in the semi-finals to take a well deserved bronze in the individual sprint.
Shah Firdaus had high hopes of winning the gold in the keirin on the last day of competition after he stayed unbeaten through the final but was unlucky to be drawn to start at the top end of the rails and eventually settled for bronze.
Shah Firdaus had been hoping to contribute gold for Malaysia in the absence of track cycling ace Azizulhasni Awang, who had to pull out at the last minute due to an injury sustained during training.
Four bronze medals is still a satisfactory achievement for the Malaysian cycling team as they head into the final phase of the Paris Olympics qualifying campaign.