Sukma 2004: Negri SembilanMay 28 - Jun 6
IT was a smooth transition of power as Johor retained the Sukma boys' road race title in style in Port Dickson yesterday.
A brilliant surge in the final 200m saw Iezmie Shah Jamian and Mohd Razif Salleh handing Johor a stunning 1-2 finish in the 120km mass start event.
National rider Razif, the champion in the event at the last Games in Sabah in 2002, bowed out gracefully from the Sukma scene by handing over the “road king” crown to his teammate Iezmie.
Both the Johor riders crossed the finish line within a fraction of a second with Iezmie being awarded the gold with a time of 2'42:13.73. Razif settled for silver in 2'42:13.80.
“I am happy that I will be leaving Sukma with the knowledge that there is a good successor, who can continue to bring glory to Johor cycling,” said the 21-year-old Razif.
“It is an incredible feat to have riders from the same team finish in the top two positions of a road race, which had more than 80 riders.”
The 18-year-old Iezmie could not stop thanking his teammates, who had worked hard to ensure he was in a good position to attack at the tail end of the race.
“I might have won the gold medal but it was truly a team effort,” he said.
The Johor riders were on a mission in the race. After two successive fourth-place finishes in the boys' individual time trial and criterium events, the Johoreans knew that the road race was the last chance for them to end their gold drought in cycling.
“We went into the race with just one intention - to win the gold.
“Although it did not look likely to happen for much of the race, the Johor riders did not give up hope,” said Razif.
After a quiet start, the race turned exciting when Selangor's national rider Mohd Sayuti Zahid and Terengganu's Zamri Salleh broke away early at the 30km mark.
Both managed to stay away from the main chasing pack but wilted in the final 10km.
The main bunch caught up with the leading duo 6km from the finish line and it was still anybody's race as the riders made a left turn into the final bend about 200m from home.
However, Iezmie and Razif rode on the momentum they gained from the turn to surge ahead before the others gained pace.
In the girls' 80km mass start, Terengganu's Fatehah Mustapa won the race in 2'27:13.50 ahead of Selangor's Noor Faslina Abdul Razak (2'27:17.40) and Kedah's Nor Hidayah Yusari (2'27:18.56).