24/05/2024 12:10 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, May  24 (Bernama) -- The performance of budding cyclist Muhammad Ridwan Sahrom at the 2024 National Track Cycling Championships at the National Velodrome in Nilai which ended yesterday attracted the attention of national champion Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang.

The keirin silver medalist of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games said Ridwan emerged as the country's brightest star among young male riders at the tournament.

Azizulhasni, nicknamed 'The Pocket Rocketman', described the 23-year-old rider from Johor as showing good progress when he managed to finish under 10 seconds (s) in the 200 metres (m) sprint event on Tuesday.

"There are some (athletes) who have improved, especially Ridwan, in the sprint event he set a PB (best personal record) under 10s. Because in 200m track cycling under 10s is like running 100m under 10s, it's not something easy, not everyone can do it, even in Malaysia only a few can do it.

"So he (Ridwan) did 9.9 something in the qualifying round (sprint), then he had good race, tactically improved. (In the event) Keirin, he also did well to come in third, I hope he continues to improve," he said when met by reporters at the National Velodrome, yesterday.

The 2017 keirin world champion also described Ridwan as being in a class of his own among the country's young riders.

"We have a few other riders but a little bit behind Ridwan, hopefully they will catch up and improve again," said Azizulhasni who is aiming to present the country's first Olympic gold at the world's biggest sports event in Paris which is scheduled to start this July.

Azizulhasni hopes that Ridwan, who is said to be a prospect for the national squad at the 2028 Olympic Games, is ready for greater challenges in his career after this.

"I hope he doesn't take a long time to step up his level, because after I have retired, he and Shah (Ridwan's brother, Muhammad Shah Firdaus) will take over the responsibility," said the 36-year-old athlete who still reigns supreme and is feared by his challengers.

In the meantime, Azizulhasni thinks that Ridwan has an element that he doesn't have, which is a bigger body size that gives him an advantage in terms of power, but still needs time to really mature physically and mentally.

Meanwhile, Ridwan, who clocked 9.929s on Tuesday, said he began to set his sights on making sub-10s records since returning from the UCI Nations Cup competition in Milton, Canada last month.

"I told John (John Beasley, head coach of the national squad), maybe this year or next year I will clock subs 10s, I didn't even think I could do it here but it would be best if I use the right timing system, maybe I will be more accurate.

"Even so, this is a stepping stone for me to go further," he said, who will compete at the World Track Cycling Championships in Denmark next October.

Yesterday, Ridwan clinched his second personal gold medal when he topped the elite men's 1 kilometre (km) time trial after helping Johor win the team sprint gold last Monday.

He also took home a silver and a bronze each for the elite men's sprint and keirin, as well as breaking two personal bests in the sprint and 1km time trial, while Azizulhasni bagged a gold each in the elite men's sprint and keirin.

Last year, Ridwan along with Mohd Fadhil Mohd Zonis and Umar Hasbullah won the elite men's team sprint bronze medal at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games before winning silver in the same event at the Asian Track Cycling Championships (ACC) in New Delhi, India, in February.


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