PETALING JAYA: Youngsters Mohd Firdaus Mohd Zonis and Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom will herald the changing of the guard for Malaysian track cycling in the Asian Cycling Championships, which begin at the Korat Velodrome in Thailand on Wednesday.
Firdaus will make his senior bow after dominating the junior ranks in sprinting for the last two years. Mohd Shah, who moved up last year, is looking to break out of the shadows of Azizulhasni Awang and Josiah Ng.
Triple Asian junior champion Firdaus is expected to combine with 19-year-old Mohd Shah and Josiah in the team sprint on Wednesday.
The 18-year-old Firdaus should also get the nod for the 1km time trial on Saturday. He is likely to contend for a medal if he can repeat the form that saw him take a bronze in the event at the World Junior Championships in South Korea last August.
Veteran rider Josiah, who will retire after the Track World Championships in France at the end of this month, has some advice for the duo.
“Rizal Tisin and Mohd Edrus Yunus have left us and their places at our training base in Melbourne have been taken over by these two youngsters.
“I’m happy to see it (the transition) happen. My message to them is to learn as much as possible.
“Pay attention to the top guys and what they do. They can also learn a lot from Azizul and me,” said Josiah.
The veteran also tipped the two as having what it takes to excel in track cycling.
“Firdaus has the physical presence but he needs to develop his mental mindset,” said Josiah.
“Mohd Shah is developing well but it doesn’t just happen overnight. We need to have patience as it takes three to four years to develop a top sprinter.
“This is only Mohd Shah’s second year in the elite set-up.”
Josiah is also looking for a good outing in Korat – either in the sprint or keirin.
“I’ve done well in the Asian meet over the last few years. I turned 35 yesterday (on Monday) and it’ll be great to have something to celebrate this week,” said the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games keirin champion.
Josiah bagged his first Asian keirin title in 2012 in Kuala Lumpur and achieved the double (sprint and keirin) in New Delhi the following year.
The Asian meet offers ranking points for track cycling qualification at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Malaysia bagged four golds, three silvers and four bronzes at the Asian meet last year – all from the track discipline.
Six gold medals are up for grabs today – boys’ 1km time trial and girls’ 500m time trial; points race for men and women; team sprint for men and women.
by Lim Teik Huat - The Star