PETALING JAYA: Cyclist Josiah Ng is the Malaysian king of track. Now youngster Ng Yong Li has set out on the road in a bid to become the country’s king of the road.
The 19-year-old Yong Li left for Spain yesterday for a three-month stint with Team Liberty Seguros Wurth. The country’s top time trial rider will be training with the Under-23 cyclists of the world’s seventh best-ranked professional team.
The exposure is expected to do a world of good for Yong Li, who was a gold medallist in Sukma (Malaysia Games) last year.
His immediate aim is to win a ticket to represent Malaysia in the Under-23 Road World Cup in Spain in September.
Yong Li is also Malaysia’s best bet in the individual time trail for the Manila SEA Games in December. He is also being prepared for two major assignments next year – the Melbourne Commonwealth Games (March) and Doha Asian Games (December).
The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president, Datuk Naim Mohd, said that the stint in Spain would provide a big boost to Yong Li’s cycling career.
“Yong Li featured in the Tour of Langkawi for the first time this year and was ranked first among 14 Malaysians in Stage 4 (an individual time trial),” said Naim.
“His performances there were good enough for the professional team in Spain to give him a chance to try out with them.
“They are a reputable team and have won the top Tour in Spain for 11 times. They are currently collaborating with us (MNCF) to develop Malaysian cycling.”
The ultimate aim is for Yong Li to represent Malaysia in the Olympics.
“This stint in Spain will give us an indication as to whether Yong Li has the necessary level to compete in Europe to further his sports career,” said Naim.
“We hope to see him as the next Josiah – but on the road. We hope he will reach world-class level between the next three and four years.”
The Batu Pahat-born Yong Li showed his potential to become a top rider when he won three gold medals in the 2002 SportExcel National Junior Circuit. In that same year, he emerged as the winner of the Penang Pesta road race and Perlis Open junior category.
He continued his dominance in the junior circuit in 2003 and in the following year won a Sukma gold for his adopted state, Malacca.
The biggest breakthrough was in 2005 when he was selected to represent Malaysia in the Tour of Langkawi. In the same year, he bagged the Putrajaya Cyclefest 96km road race. He also won the individual time trail in the Jorak Circuit in Muar and the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang Cup championships.