THE door is wide open, and M. Kumaresan is being urged by his former mentor, Datuk Naim Mohamad, to take up the leading role in charting the national track cycling programme.
Naim, the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president, in the wake of the national squad's failure to deliver targeted medals at the London Olympics, announced on Wednesday that he would resign from his post as promised.
Naim said he had resigned with immediate effect as national team manager and MNCF track committee chairman but will see out his three-year term as deputy president before stepping aside.
That leaves the national track programme in limbo, with a squad preparing for the World Junior Championships in Invercargill, New Zealand on Aug 22-26.
Naim said he wants Kumaresan, the current Kuala Lumpur Cycling Association (KLCA) deputy president and MNCF athletes' welfare committee chairman, to move up.
"It's time for M (Kumaresan) to stop taking up small roles just to be involved in cycling. There is a lot to be tapped from his experience and it is time for him to play a leading role," said Naim.
"It is time he contributed back to the sport. He has the capability, the knowledge, he's been through it all, right up to the Olympics.
"He also speaks well and is a respected figure within our cycling community. On top of that, we've seen how he handles high pressure situations as an administrator as he's even served as the race director in the Jelajah Malaysia."
When asked why he was stepping down, Naim said he could no longer afford to put cycling above the welfare of his family and himself.
"I've committed the past 12 years to it. I've put my own welfare and that of my family in jeopardy. I even didn't have time to take care of my health," said Naim.
"I didn't even have time to take care of my property, so I had to sell some of it off. There's nothing left to sell.
"Now, if all that had been at the expense of an Olympic medal, it would have been worth it to continue. But since that isn't the case, then I think it is better for someone else to step forward and take charge."
The duo have a long history of working together, as Naim was the national team manager during most of Kumaresan's illustrious career in the 1980s and 1990s.
Kumaresan, 45, when contacted, said he had received a call from Naim. "I always respect Naim's decisions, but this time I want to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with him before I take up any post.
"I am sure he is frustrated, so I told him I'll talk to him in a few days. Let him first get over the sadness."