State Sukma back up squad to spearhead local challenge
Posted on June 23, 2012, Saturday
KUCHING: Aspiring State Sukma back up squad members will be among those spearheading the local challenge in the inaugural Lundu Mountain Bike Cross Country Challenge and criterium race which start today.
Racing under Team Viking – Sarawak’s oldest cycling team, the young riders who will be competing are namely 14-year-old Harnif Kamaluddin, 15-year-old Mohd Fitri Hashim, Norismiza Azman, 16 and Sukma bound Ahmad Termizi, 20.
“The competition will be tough because we will be up against good riders who include those from the national side like current mountain bike champion Shahrin Amir,” said Team Viking manager cum rider Affendey Haji Kadri on what lies ahead for the team which is sending seven riders including himself to the two-day event.
Despite facing the much older and experienced opponents, the young Vikings are expected to gather a lot of exposure competing along with the mountain bike giants who include national London Olympics back up, Azizulhasni Awang and former SEA Games cyclist, the evergreen Nor Affendi Rosli.
Shahrin himself won last year’s national mountain bike championship held in Tampin, Negri Sembilan and had also won the men’s Elite category of the 2009 and 2010 KL Mountain Bike Carnival after defeating top riders from Australia, Canada, Germany, Equador, Iran, Mauritius, the Philippines, Singapore, Surinam, Thailand, England and United States.
With total cash prize money of RM18,900 up for grabs in the two-day event, Shahrin representing SBS Giant Racing team will be the top national rider to beat even though he is expected to face stiff challenge from other contenders.
Over 200 riders from throughout Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore will be battling it out in the race organised by Lundu District Office in conjunction with its 135-years anniversary as an administrative district.
“We are however hopeful for our young riders to finish among the top 20 in the Sarawak Closed category based on their fine showing in last month’s Miri mountain bike event” said Affendey on Team Viking’s modest target with include aiming for the top honours in the men’s veteran category.
According to him, Team Viking can only send one of their elite junior riders because the rest are now competing in the Kelantan grand tour as part of their preparation for the upcoming Pahang Sukma.
“We actually have 12 juniors in our development programme but half of them are Sukma bound,” he said on the current list of young riders available to compete in today’s events.
For the record, Team Viking was first formed in 1979 by State powerboat legend, the late Opek Haji Kadri who together with younger brothers, Yanto and Affendey have competed in national and international events in their pursuit to bring cycling accolades to Sarawak’s shores.
The team recently took part in Miri’s Bakam Mountain Bike Challenge held in May organised by Miri Mountain Bike Club (MMBC) and finished among the top riders in the 30 km gruelling mountain bike challenge.
“We are aiming to give exposure to our young riders and hopefully they can learn a thing or two while competing against the region’s best,” said Affendey who welcomes the event in Lundu which provides a good avenue for local mountain bike fraternity to compete against the visiting sides.