By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: German cyclist Carsten Bergemann spoiled what could have turned out to be an historic one-two finish for Malaysia in the keirin final of the Track World Cup at the Hisense Arena in Melbourne last night.
But it was still a glorious day when Azizul Hasni Awang and Josiah Ng came away with the silver and bronze medals as two Malaysians rode in a World Cup final race for the first time.
After the disappointment of the opening round in Manchester, Azizul got his act right in Melbourne to secure his first World Cup medal for the year.
Seasoned campaigner Josiah also showed flashes of the form which took him to the Athens Olympic final in 2004 when he secured his first World Cup medal in three years.
Both Azizul and Josiah qualified automatically into the second round after finishing second in their heats.
Azizul, riding for Australian trade team BT Technologies, turned on the power to storm into the final as the winner of the second round heat ahead of Australia’s Shane Perkins and China’s Tang Qi.
Josiah just pulled through to the top six final after finishing third behind Bergemann and New Zealand’s Simon Van Velthooven.
Although the Terengganu-born Azizul failed in his bid to defend the title he won at the same venue 12 months ago, it was still a well-executed comeback effort from him.
The 21-year-old had targeted the keirin in Manchester but lost out in the first round where he was relegated for an infringement.
Azizul subsequently failed to make it through the repechage, riding unprepared after a miscommunication with the race official.
Josiah, who shut out British rider Matthew Crampton, the World Cup silver medal winner in Manchester in the second round to qualify for the final, was delighted with his form coming after just five weeks of training.
“I finished ahead of so many good riders and this is my first World Cup medal after so long.
“There is a big team of younger Malaysian riders training together and this is helping me to keep my level up. It’s the first time we have two Malaysians winning medals and I feel like there’s still a lot more to come,” said the 29-year-old Josiah in a telephone interview from Melbourne.
Azizul and Josiah will return to the venue for the 200m sprint qualification rounds today.
Malaysia’s Akmal Amrun failed to qualify for the men’s 15km scratch final after finishing 12th in his qualifying heat earlier.
The top 10 riders from each of the two heats advanced to the final.
Meanwhile, 2007 Asian junior champion Mohd Syamil Bahrum capped his World Cup debut by finishing 13th in the 1km time trial with a personal best time of 1:05.827.
Australian trade team rider Scott Sunderland took gold in 1:02.171.