Tuesday, 13 March 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM
Cyclist Afiq aims to deliver historic medal for Malaysia
PETALING JAYA: The 2017 world keirin champion Azizulhasni Awang won’t be the only Commonwealth Games gold medal prospect for Malaysia at the Anna Meares Velodrome in Gold Coast next month if Afiq Afify Rizan has his way.
The 22-year-old, who is visually impaired, has set his sights on becoming the first para athlete to strike historic gold for Malaysia at the Games.
Afiq will ride in the men’s sprint (B) and 1km time trial (B) with his pilot Muhd Khairul Adha Rasol in Gold Coast as the only Malaysian representatives in track para cycling.
Afiq-Khairul rode to a historic bronze for Malaysia at the UCI Track Para Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles last year.
“We’ve a very good chance to finish on the podium at the Games. The British riders are the strongest rivals as we lost to them at last year’s world meet.
“But it’s sightly different at the Commonwealth Games as the cyclists do not ride together under the Britain flag.
“We are much younger than the British cyclists and based on the time we clocked at the Asian Track Championships in Nilai, we have the fastest pace,” said Afiq, who clocked 10.020 for the new Asian record en route to winning the men’s sprint (B) gold medal in Nilai last month.
“We’ll be happy to win a medal of any colour as this is the first time para cycling is contested at the Commonwealth Games.
“We seldom have the opportunity to fight for a medal in the same tournament with the normal athletes. The Commonwealth Games is the only sporting event where we can realise this, so it’s a special honour to do well,” added Afiq, who is under the Podium Programme.
The medal from a para athlete is included in the main Games medal tally.
Before the Gold Coast challenge, Afiq-Khairul will be out for a good showing at the world meet in Rio de Janeiro from March 22-25.
“We will try to finish on the podium again. Our best chance lies in the sprint and 1km time trial events.”
Eight other Malaysians have also qualified for the 1km time trial, individual pursuit and sprint events at the para cycling world meet.
They are Mohamad Yusof Hafizi Shaharuddin (men’s C1), Muhd Adi Raimie Amizazahan (men’s C2), Mohd Najib Turano (men’s C4), Zuhairi Ahmad Tarmizi (men’s C5), Muhd Khairul Nizam Mohd Ali-Muhd Firdaus Mohd Zonis (men’s B); and Nur Azlia Syafinaz Mohd Zais-Noraidillina Adilla Sam (women’s B).