Still a lot of catching up for riders

KUALA LUMPUR: Though pleased with his charges' progress, national track cycling coach John Beasley has downplayed their chances of snatching a surprise medal in the team sprint competition at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games from July 28-Aug 8.

The team will be without Azizulhasni Awang but features a leaner and meaner Fadhil Zonis, promising debutant Ridwan Sahrom and his experienced elder brother Shah Firdaus.

Though the trios' potential is undoubted, Beasley said they need time to develop into a serious threat to the big names.

"I am really happy with Ridwan's progress. He is going to be part of the programme for many years to come, and it is all about getting the (development) process right for him," said Beasley.

"He has definitely improved. Over the past few weeks, he has achieved a few tenths of a second faster over 200 metres, which is nice to see.

"Fadhil has also lost some weight, which is good. I am trying to get him to 84kg.

"Like me, he is someone who puts on weight pretty easily and at his peak was about 90kg.

"We still have a few more kg to go, and hopefully, he will be able to achieve it by the World Championships (October).

"As for the team sprint, honestly, I think it will be tough (to challenge for a medal).

"When you look at the field, we will be up against teams such as Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

"Then there are people such as Nicholas Paul of Trinidad and Tobago, who is the world record holder (individual sprint), and is in good form, having won both the sprint and keirin at the Cali round of the Nations Cup recently.

"Basically, besides the Dutch, the best of the best are here.

"But I am still confident we will have a good outing. Shah is also one of the best keirin riders in the world."

Malaysia have not won a team sprint medal at the Commonwealth Games since Azizulhasni, Josiah Ng and Rizal Tisin claimed bronze at the 2010 Delhi edition.

Azizulhasni underwent heart surgery in April and is not expected to return to competition until next year.

Shah, who claimed the keirin silver at the Asian Championships in India last month, is arguably the nation's best bet for a medal at the Games.

The Commonwealth Games track cycling competition will be held at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London on July 29-Aug 1.

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