PETALING JAYA: Muhd Firdaus Mohd Zonis got Malaysia’s campaign in the Asian Cycling Championships off to a cracking start when he bagged the gold medal in the men’s junior 1km time trial in record breaking fashion at the Indira Gandhi Velodrome in New Delhi.
The 16-year-old smashed the championship record of 1:06.493, belonging to Japan’s Hayasaka Shugo, by winning the one-lap discipline in 1:05.758 yesterday.
South Korea’s Kim Hyeon-sook took silver in 1:07.44 while the bronze went to Japan’s Hayato Okamoto (1:07.683).
Firdaus is the second rider to have achieved this feat. Mohd Syahmil Baharom won gold in the men’s junior 1km time trial in the 2007 edition in Korat.
The juniors settled for the lesser medals when the Asian meet took place in Kuala Lumpur last year and Firdaus’ triumph came as a pleasant surprise to the cycling fraternity.
Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad hoped that the golden start would boost the cyclists’ confidence for the challenges ahead.
“We also won a gold in the men’s junior 1km time trial a few years ago but the cyclist have not been able to capitalise on that success. We had no outstanding talent in the 1km time trial. Now, there’s hope with Firdaus,” he said.
“We’ll look at grooming him to become a good replacement for Rizal Tisin (a bronze medallist at the World Championships in 2009 and silver medallist at the 2010 Commmonwealth Games).”
There was also joy for Jupha Somnet, who picked up a bronze in the women’s elite 20km points race final.
Jupha, of Perlis, earned 29 points behind silver medallist Minami Uwano (36 points).
Hong Kong’s Jamie Wong raced to the gold medal with 41 points.
Malaysia are also assured of at least silver medals after the men’s elite and junior team sprint combinations made it to the final.
The men’s elite team sprint trio of Mohd Edrus Yunos, Mohd Arfy Qhairant and Mohd Fattah Amri Zaid are up against defending champions China in the final while the juniors face South Korea.