By Jean-François Quénet in Genting Highlands
The true Asian cycling star of Le Tour de Langkawi isn't on the race start list but you can see him parading on an elephant or entertaining the crowd with track stands or wheelies before a stage finish. Keirin specialist Josiah Ng is Telekom Malaysia's ambassador and he does it well. The fact that he has grown up in California in nearby Hollywood might be a reason why he's such a good showman, but he wants to be recognized for his results first.
In 2004, Josiah Ng was named Malaysia's Olympian of the year. He produced the country's best result when he finished fifth in the keirin final in Athens. He was crying though. He didn't accept the idea to be disqualified after a crash because his priority in life and sport is to be honest and correct. "Looking back, I don't care much about the officials' decision because I wasn't getting a medal anyway," he said to Cyclingnews.
Aged 26, he's coming of age for higher ambitions. His two main goals for the 2006 season are the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne this coming March and the world championships in Bordeaux in April. "I really hope to bring medals back home this year," he told his Malaysian fans. He talked to them in English though, with a distinct American accent. "Even my French is better than my bahasa Malaysia", he said apologetically. Ng was born in Manilla, Philippines, and spent only two years in Malaysia before moving with his parents to the US.
After finishing third at the World Cup in Manchester last December, Ng's ready to take up the challenge against the likes of Ryan Bayley and Arnaud Tournant. "Florian Rousseau was my hero and I'm pleased I've beaten him once," he underlined. There's a bit of French flair in his cycling - Ng spent two years under the guidance of Frédéric Magné at the world cycling center in Aigle, Switzerland, in the lead up to the 2004 Olympic Games. During that period, he won the keirin world cup in 2003.
After one year back in Los Angeles, he's now on another move. This week, he leaves for Australia, first competing in the team sprint at the Australian track championships in Adelaide, where a special permission was granted for a Malaysian team. Then he'll head to Melbourne, following the training plans of John Beasley, best known for coaching Katie Mactier and Mark French.
"He's a highly recommended coach and I think it's good to try out with him, especially this year with the Commonwealth Games being in Melbourne anyway," said Ng. "I really want to improve my qualifying time in the sprint event as well." And after a break following the world's, he'll go back to for his keirin campaign in Japan.