Beijing beckons Malaysian men’s sprint team
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia have not had more than one cyclist qualifying for the Olympics. But the men’s sprint team now stand a chance to make it to the Beijing Games in August. The trio of Junaidi Nasir, Josiah Ng and Rizal Tisin clocked 46.319 to finished 10th in the third leg of the UCI Track World Cup, which ended in Los Angeles on Sunday. And it secured them a place to compete in the World Championships in Manchester in March. While their latest effort was outside the national mark of 45.511, which the trio of Edrus Yunus, Josiah and Rizal set in the second leg of the World Cup in Beijing a month ago, the encouraging news is that Malaysia are now in eighth spot in the world rankings. The top eight after the World Championships secure places in the Olympics.
And Josiah believes that the team have a chance to nick a place with a good performance in either the final leg of the World Cup in Denmark from Feb 15-17 or in the world meet. “They have yet to take into account the results from the third round but even if the points go in, we will still be on track,” said Josiah from Los Angeles yesterday. If Malaysia earn a quota spot for the team sprint event, it will also guarantee extra places for the individual keirin and sprint. Josiah finished eighth in keirin in Los Angeles and is now ranked at number eight while Azizul Hasni Awang, the Asian Championships gold medallist, is in 14th spot. For the Olympics, the top nine ranked cyclists will qualify automatically along with the respective winners from the World Championships and World Cup. “I am looking solid to qualify for the keirin. But if we can qualify in the team sprint, we can have one more place in keirin and that will really help our cause. We will also get one spot for the individual sprint,” said Josiah. The inclusion of professional teams have made Josiah’s task to earn another appearance in the Olympics tougher. But Josiah, who will be 28 on Feb 2, is determined not to give up. “It is now much harder to qualify for the Olympics because each of the top countries have separate professional outfits,” he said. “I have gone faster than before but it is still difficult to get among the top 16 in the sprints … that is how tough it is.” Josiah clocked 10.578 to finish 18th in the individual sprint on Sunday. “My condition is not as good as in Sydney in December (where he set a new national record of 10.386),” said Josiah. “I have been training right through it because I hope to bring my form up towards the Olympics, which is the goal.”