'Izzah has potential'

National track cycling coach John Beasley has labelled newly crowned Asian champion Nurul Izzah Izzati Asri as a special talent with a bright future ahead.

On Sunday, Izzah became the first Malaysian to win the women's 500m time trial gold medal at the Asian Championships in New Delhi.

The 19-year-old is a new addition to the national track setup. She was in the national backup squad last year.

Izzah, who represented Kedah in various national-level competitions, is also equally good in BMX, mountain biking and road cycling.

Beasley believes that Izzah will become a top talent in track cycling through proper guidance and patience.

"Izzah is a special talent. We need to give her time to develop and learn the craft of racing," said Beasley.

"I believe she will become world-class. I am excited to see someone of her talent and personality in our programme.

"It will not be long before we have a competitive women's team (alongside elite rider Anis Amira Rosidi).

"Special thanks must go to Izzah's coach (Noor Alfizar Othman) in Kedah, who did all the work to develop her. We need more women coaches like her out there in the field.

"Developing Izzah to this level without using a velodrome is something special and creative."

The now-retired Fatehah Mustapa previously claimed silver in the 500m time trial at the 2008 and 2015 editions of the Asian meet.

Izzah first grabbed attention at the National Championships in Nilai last month when she upset national elite rider Anis Amira in the individual sprint final.

Anis and Izzah have the potential to form a competitive sprint team in the future.

Although pleased with her gold-medal feat, Izzah is determined to keep improving.

"I was not expecting to win the event. However, I know what I am capable of (timing-wise), and I am glad that I was able to perform well," said Izzah.

"I am both proud and grateful to be the first (Malaysian) to win the (500m time trial) gold at the Asian meet.

"I am satisfied with my performance, but there are aspects that I can still improve on to become faster."

On a separate note, Beasley added that Lim Chun Kiat's performance in the men's pursuit on Sunday deserved a special mention.

Chun Kiat, who is not under the national programme, came close to becoming the first-ever Malaysian to win a medal in the discipline at the Asian meet after finishing fourth in the event.

"It was a great performance from the young man from Sabah," said Beasley.

"Chun Kiat's coach Louis Pang and the Sabah State Sports Council also deserve a special mention.

"Sabah have done an incredible job supporting their cycling programme and deserve this result."

The Sabah State Sports Council funded Chun Kiat and Louis competition costs in New Delhi.

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