Teamwork works for Malaysia
It was a perfect 10 for teamwork among Malaysia's cyclists yesterday.
Men's gold medallist Mohd Harrif Saleh and women's bronze medallist Ju Pha Som Net had their compatriots to thank for, as they successfully fended off the competition in fiercely contested criterium races around the Gardens by the Bay.
Harrif found blistering speed in the last couple of laps to cross the line just a few hundredths of a second ahead of Vietnam's Le Van Duan.
"It was a great team effort. We have been training together as a team for three years and communicate with one another very well," the 26-year-old told The New Paper yesterday.
"Everybody knows his role well and we'll definitely have a good race on Sunday," said Harrif, referring to the weekend's mass start road races.
Nurul Suhada Zainal, Malaysia's other female cyclist in the criterium, described her teammate's podium finish as a "perfect race".
"Our strategy worked out exactly the way we wanted. I'm very happy that I was able to defend the medal for Ju Pha," she said.
Thailand's Jutatip Maneephan won gold and Nguyen Thi That of Vietnam took silver.
Yesterday also marked a memorable SEA Games debut for Singaporean Vincent Ang, who nicked the bronze from Thailand's Thanawut Sanikwathi by a whisker.
The 38-year-old had previously given up hope of representing the Republic in a major sporting event after failing to make the team selection for previous few SEA Games.
So there was a mix of elation and relief on Ang's face, as he thanked the Singapore Cycling Federation for placing its trust in him.
"They believed in me from day one and I was gunning for gold today," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"But I came home with a bronze and I couldn't ask for more."
Ang's podium finish has also boosted his confidence for tomorrow's team race.
"We have a couple of cyclists who specialise in road races, so my job would be to help them and I believe we have a very good chance."
- BENJAMIN LIM
Cyclist Dinah recovering, but still not at her best
Dinah Chan was not yet at her 100 per cent in yesterday's criterium race, as the 29-year-old cyclist continues to recover from a bout of food poisoning that affected her and her teammates on Thursday.
She finished fifth despite still feeling under the weather, while teammate Serene Lee finished 12th.
"My goal today was to help my team-mate (Serene Lee), so I felt less pressure in the race," she said.
But Chan remained upset that she could not retain her 2013 Games title in her pet event - the individual time trial - on Thursday as a result of her illness.
She had to settle for the bronze, while Philippines and Thailand took the gold and silver.
"I'm very disappointed. It's unfortunate, but it's happened already," she said.
"I gave absolutely everything on Thursday and I already wasn't feeling good, so I really was running on empty."
She revealed that she had already been on a special diet before the competition due to food allergies and only ate from a selected range of food from Resorts World Sentosa hotel, where she is staying for the Games.
"I'm pretty sure it didn't come from the hotel, it could be something else. I will know only when the investigations are over," she said.
Chan hopes to recover fully for today's mass start road race, where she will have to complete a distance of 114km over eight laps.
- BENJAMIN LIM