Debutant Nurul makes history in Asian Championships

New sensation: Nurul Izzah Izzati Mohd Asri topped the timesheets in 35.499s – achieving a top speed of 50.705 kilometres per hour – to claim the gold

Youngster Nurul Izzah Izzati Mohd Asri only joined the national cycling team early this year but she has matched what only Azizulhasni Awang has managed to do so far – to win gold in a debut campaign in the elite ranks of the Asian Track Cycling Championships. The 19-year-old rode her way into the history books as Malaysia’s first ever gold medallist in the women’s 500m time trial event at the Asian meet in New Delhi, India. Nurul proved her fine form at the recent National Championships in Nilai was no fluke after she topped the timesheets in 35.499s – achieving a top speed of 50.705 kilometres per hour – to claim the gold at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex Velodrome. South Korea’s Kim Bo-mi settled for second (36.374s) while India’s Mayuri Dhanaraj Lute (36.481s) completed the podium. Nurul has not only followed in the footsteps of two-time Olympic medallist Azizul, who made his debut in the senior ranks of the Asian meet with gold in the keirin in the 2007 edition in Thailand but she is the first winner in the 500m time trial who is not from China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. Malaysia have never won the 500m time trial at the Asian meet before though the now-retired Fatehah Mustapa previously claimed silver in the event twice in 2008 and 2015. Nurul is a new addition to the national team and was only called up to the back-up squad at the start of the year. Nurul raised eyebrows in the national meet last month when she beat the more experienced Anis Amira Rosidi to take gold in the sprint. Kedah-born Nurul admitted she did not expect to win the race in the first place but is now determined to keep improving. “I wasn’t expecting to win the event but I know what I am capable of (timing-wise) and I am glad that I was able to perform well. “I am both proud and grateful to be able to be the first (Malaysian woman) to win the 500m time trial gold at the Asian Championships. “I am satisfied with my performance but there are many aspects I can improve on to become faster.” Tokyo Olympian Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom claimed his second career Asian Championships silver medal in keirin in three years after finishing behind Japan’s Kohei Terasaki. Kazakhstan’s Sergey Ponomaryov came in third while Fadhil Zonis settled for seventh overall. Shah Firdaus previously won the Asian Championships keirin silver in 2019 as well as bronze in 2017. “I came here with the mission to regain the keirin gold for Malaysia but it was not meant to be. “I will focus on the sprint tomorrow where I hope to get another medal,” said Shah Firdaus, who also has a silver from the team sprint event earlier. Akmal Nazimi Jusena also contributed a bronze in the men’s junior keirin. South Korea’s Bae Jun-hyeong and Japan’s Minato Nakaishi claimed gold and silver respectively.