By Jean-François Quénet in Kuala Lumpur
Since the national team returned from the Track World Championships with their first medals, Malaysia has witnessed an increased amount of interest surrounding the discipline. Individual sprint runner-up Azizul Hasni Awang and kilometre silver medallist Rizal Tisin returned to their hometowns as national heroes. Sprinter Josiah Ng is hoping the momentum will lead to an indoor velodrome in the capital.
The sprinter is busy preparing for a race in Japan, where he'll be one of the five international riders invited to challenge the locals on the six-month long keirin circuit alongside Ross Edgar, Matthew Crampton, Teun Mulder and Shane Perkins.
A member of the Malaysian sprint team who finished sixth at the World's, Ng was thrilled by the achievements of his fellow compatriots. "We received fantastic support from the authorities here," he said. "But we now want to convince them to build an indoor 250 metres wooden velodrome, hopefully in Kuala Lumpur. I hope our performances will also inspire the people in power in addition to all the kids who are now dreaming of taking part in the national championships.
"My wish is to see every one of the thirteen states of Malaysia building a cheap outdoor concrete velodrome. Something like they have in Tasmania."
The Malaysian national team is forced to prepare for their races in Melbourne, Australia, since the facilities currently don't exist in the country with only two outdoor tracks operating: one in Ipoh and the Kuala Lumpur velodrome that was built for the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
Part of Ng's dream will come true soon if the Terengganu outdoor velodrome is built. "An important track cycling nation like Malaysia should have an indoor velodrome," Naim said. He confirmed the project is in the air and it will be presented to the new government soon. Malaysia appointed a new Prime Minister last week, who is known for being a strong supporter of cycling.
The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) launched the national track championship in Kuala Lumpur for the first time this week (April 9-12). The world class riders will not take part but the backup riders Edrus Yunus and Fatenah will lead the field of 168 competitors, MNCF track committee chairman Datuk Naim Mohamad announced on Monday.