IT’s either ignorance or just a case of a breakdown in communication. Whatever the case may be, it nearly forced the Malaysian mountain bike squad to pull out of the competition starting today.
The Malaysian team only learnt on Monday morning that the official practice sessions were to take place yesterday.
The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) officials then informed the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), who managed to fly out the squad, who then arrived in Laos on Monday night.
If the team were to arrive yesterday morning, they would have missed the official practice sessions and that would mean disqualification from the competition.
Under the mountain bike rules, it is compulsory for participants to take part in the official training to check out the routes.
The seeding run will take place today to determine the starting order of the men’s and women’s 1.5km downhill event the next day.
Team manager Datuk Ahmad Sidi said they managed to secure tickets for the cyclists at the last minute on Monday night.
“We were only supposed to arrive this morning and would not have been able to take part in the first practice session,” he said.
“There was an afternoon session but it would have been pointless for us as we would no longer be eligible to compete.”
The Malaysian cyclists for the men’s 1.5km downhill are Stanley Jalip and Norsahriel Haizat Ahmad Nazali.
However, Ahmad said they had no medal expectations.
“There is a big gap (in standard) between our cyclists and those from Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand,” he said.
Malaysia returned home empty-handed in mountain bike at the last two Games – in 2005 (Manila) and 2007 (Korat).
Malaysia’s medal prospects will be in the road cycling competition, scheduled for Dec 12-14. STAR