TERENGGANU completed a historic 12-gold medal outing in cycling at the Malaysia Games after completing another double sweep in Temerloh yesterday and all signs are showing that this domination is set to continue, at least in the next Games in Perlis.
Sofian Nabil Omar Bakri, 19, bagged his third gold medal of the Games after a tight duel with Johor's Fakhruddin Daud in the men's criterium which saw the top two separated by just two points, as Selangor's Hamdan Hamidun settled for the bronze medal.
The women's criterium was totally dominated by Terengganu as Zahraa Anuawar was a clear winner ahead of teammate Nur Ain Mahmood as the duo bagged 15 and 11 points respectively, leaving Selangor's Farina Shawati Mohd Adnan to collect the bronze.
The dominance even surprised coach Syed Mohd Hussaini Syed Mazlan, who said his personal target was a mere four gold medals, which was raised to six by the Terengganu Sports Council. But Syed Mohd Hussaini believes he has struck gold with this batch of new riders set to light up the future of Malaysian cycling.
"My initial target was modest as I had to consider the fact that Selangor, Johor, Malacca, Sabah, Perlis and Kedah all had riders who are under the National Sports Council's Pelapis (back-up) programme," said Syed Mohd Hussaini.
"We only had Sofian Nabil from the Pelapis programme while the rest of our squad were all from our own programme. So I must say that to win 12 gold medals is tremendous."
Terengganu lined up the likes of Azizulhasni Awang, Harrif Salleh, Anuar Manan, Amir Mustafa Rusli, Adiq Husainie Othman and Fatehah Mustapa in previous Games but Syed Mohd Hussaini said this time, the achievement of this new batch of riders signaled a bright future for the national team.
"With the likes of Sofian Nabil, Zulhilmie Afif Ahmad Zamri, Nur Amirull Fakhruddin Mazuki, Zahraa Anuawar and the rest, we've got a breath of new life.
"I really believe Sofian Nabil, particularly, has a bright future. He can be a better sprinter on the road than Harrif or Anuar if he is given the opportunity," said Syed Hussaini.
Terengganu's best ever achievement in Malaysia Games cycling was a nine-gold medal haul when they hosted the Games in 2008, but at that time they had to call home Azizulhasni and Fatehah from the national elite squad training base in Melbourne to help deliver two gold medals each.
"This is not just history, it shows that our development programme is running well.
" I used a training system that I had perfected when I was coach of the Terengganu Cycling Team and now it has managed to produce results again," said Syed Mohd Hussaini.