Rizal eyes team sprint national record as consolation
PETALING JAYA: It is unfortunate that the men’s 1km time trial will not be contested in the Beijing Olympics as track cyclist Rizal Tisin would have been a good bet for a top-five finish.
The 1km time trial has been dropped from the Olympic roster for the first time in a compromise to include BMX cycling as a medal event.
But that has only made Rizal more determined to play his part to put Malaysia on the world cycling map in Beijing.
Malaysia will be competing in the team sprint event at the Olympics for the first time.
Pocket dynamite Azizul Hasni Awang will be the lead rider ahead of Josiah Ng while Rizal will be the third rider. Mohd Edrus Yunus, 21, is the reserve for the team sprint.
Australian coach John Beasley is unlikely to tinker with the combination and Rizal is set to get a taste of the Olympic track action.
Having blazed to a stunning lap of 1:02.409 en route to finishing fifth in the World Championships in Manchester in March, Rizal certainly fits the bill as the third rider for the team sprint.
Usually, the 1km time trial specialists are chosen for this role.
“The third rider needs to have good endurance as he will have to maintain the high speed right to the finish line,” said Rizal.
“I fought hard to win this position because I knew it was my only chance to take part in the Olympics this time.
“Who does not want to compete in the Olympics?
“I know I could have had a chance to create history for the country if the 1km time trial was not dropped. But that’s in the past. My goal now is to help the team set a new national record in Beijing.
“We have been combining well in training in Valencia. The Olympic track is a fast one and we have a good chance to crack the record again.
“While we cannot hope for a medal in the team sprint, it will be great if we can finish ahead of a few other teams provided we clock our best time,” added the 24-year-old, who also won the 1km time trial gold in the Asian Championships in Japan in April.
Only 11 countries qualify to race in the team sprint in Beijing.
Rizal rode in the team alongside Josiah and Edrus in their only visit to the competition venue – Laoshan Velodrome – last year. The trio took part in the second-leg of the World Cup just before the Korat SEA Games and managed to set a new national record of 45.511.
Azizul needs no introduction as he was recently chosen to be the flag-bearer for the Malaysian contingent in Beijing.
The double Asian champion is not just competing in the team sprint but also in the individual keirin and 200m sprint.
Azizul, 20, has a chance to steal the show from Josiah in the keirin but prefers not to get carried away at this point.
“This is my first Olympics and everyone will be in their best form. But if I get my chance, I will surely make a dash for it,” said the Terengganu lad.