Tuesday, August 20

Deena wants to ride further than famous father


Nur Deena Safia is a bronze medallist at this year’s Asia Continental Championship in Danao, the Philippines.

KUCHING: Nor Effendi Rosli is an icon in Malaysian cycling.

The 52-year-old from Selangor started in the sport in 1983 before racing for the national team.

From 1996 to 2005 he was a regular feature in the Le Tour de Langkawi.

He may best be remembered as a silver medalist in the road race at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Now a DBKL employee he also organises cycling events while still competing in races for veterans.

He and his wife are the proud parents to three girls and one son, their youngest child.

They say an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

This certainly applies to Nur Deena Safia, the second daughter.

Nineteen-year-old Deena is already a top cyclist, albeit a mountain biker not a road racer.

She has been in the sport for five years now and races for Team Exitway Mercury.

Nor Effendi Rosli

“I guess she definitely has my blood in her,” said Effendi.

“She has always been interested in bike racing, always asking me how to do this and that,” the father recalled.

“When she first started out, I told her she has to be serious and no fooling around in training sessions.”

Effendi remembers too well how he was trained by legendary Malaysian cyclist and coach Ng Joo Ngan.

“He was always very strict with me and that is how I am with Deena,” he said.

Despite his road racing fame, the father-mentor wants to see Deena excel in mountain biking.

“Unfortunately, the National Sports Council is not supportive of mountain biking, so we have to prove our ability first,” he observed.

Deena is a student at UiTM Shah Alam which means she has to divide her time between studies and cycling.

“My passion is studying and cycling but right now I need to concentrate on my studies as you need a certificate if you are to get a good job,” said Deena.

“I would like to train more but I can’t just yet.”

Effendi intends to send Deena to Australia to train and race.

“You need a good coach and Australia is where one can find them.”

The former international star clearly wants his daughter to be more than just a champion in Malaysia.

Deena shares her father’s sentiment.

She went some way in doing just that when she won the Under-23 bronze at the Asian Continental Championship held at Danao City, the Philippines in May this year.

But, more importantly, the Danao event opened her eyes as to how much she needs to improve.

“I did not expect it to be so so hard,” Deena revealed.

At Danao, the weather alternated between cold rain and blazing hot temperatures on race day.

She crashed hard on her first training lap but it turned out to be all roses on race day when she finished third.

She is in action this weekend at Keningau for the Sabah round of the Asia Mountain Bike Series, the third leg of the 10-stop series.

It doubles as Malaysia’s national championship and Sarawak cyclists will also be well represented there.

Then all eyes turn to the Perak Sukma in September where Deena will also appear.

But she is looking much further beyond that.

“I want to be the first Malaysian to make the Olympics in mountain biking.”

“I also want to one-up my father as he never went to the Olympics,” she quipped.