NILAI: Nik Mohd Azwan Zulkiflie is confident that the national time trial cycling team will be capable of winning a medal at the Indonesia Asian Games next year if given the right support.
The Sea Games gold medallist said the squad has a lot of potential as shown during the recent Kuala Lumpur Sea Games (KL2017), where they emerged victorious despite lacking in depth preparation.
The 27-year-old had teamed up with fellow police rider Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi as well as twins Muhammad Ameer and Muhammad Ameen Ahmad Kamal at KL2017.
The national team management has decided to retain the four until the Asian Games next year, with Fauzan subsequently deciding to make a U-turn on his decision to retire from the national team.
“Due to clashing commitments and a lack of budget, we had only managed to train for a month together prior to the Sea Games,” said Azwan, when met at the launch of the Kota Seriemas Fun Ride in Nilai today.
“Despite having to really ration our budget when we trained in Chiang Rai, we still managed to exceed our targeted time by two minutes, which was quite a surprise. We also have the twins who are still very young (22) and have a lot of room for improvement.
“I believe that we can win a medal at the Asian Games if we have the right training, equipment and support in general.”
Azwan admitted that winning gold would be a tall order in Indonesia, though he is confident of making the podium.
“Obviously, winning gold will be tough as Kazakhstan and Iran will be the favourites. But I do not think making the podium is impossible, with the right focus.”
Azwan, Fauzan and fellow KL2017 gold medallist Harrif Saleh and his brother Zamri (bronze at KL2017) have been given the honour of leading the Kota Seriemas Fun Ride, which will be held in Nilai on Saturday, in recognition of their achievements for the country at KL2017. A total of 800 riders are expected to take part.
PNB Development Sdn Bhd general manager (operations) Wan Azian Wan Yusoff said the township was hosting the ride in support of the state government’s objective to make the sport popular in Nilai, which also boasts the recently completed National Stadium.
Kota Seriemas, a project by PNB Development, is one of the few townships in Malaysia which features a dedicated 10km cycling path, with four separate shelters for riders, to encourage the sport among its residents.