Malaysia's Mohd Harrif Saleh (right) celebrates after crossing the finish line in the mass start road race at the Singapore SEA Games on Sunday. - FAIHAN GHANI / The STAR
SINGAPORE: Mohd Harrif Saleh shed tears of joy after bagging the most prized gold medal in cycling – the men’s 165km mass start – on a rainy morning at Marina Bay South.
The Malaysian finished just ahead of Vietnam’s Le Van Duan and compatriot Anuar Manan. All three were credited with a time of 3’19:33.
It was Harrif’s second gold at the Singapore SEA Games, having unexpectedly won the men’s criterium on Friday.
The 27-year-old Harrif thanked his team-mates from the Terengganu Cycling Team, and Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi for playing their roles to perfection.
“It was all team work. Our strategy was to stick together until the last 4km. And then it was either me or Anuar to sprint home with 200m to go. But it was not easy as the wet surface made conditions difficult for everybody,” said Harrif.
“We, the riders from Terengganu, made the country proud today. After not winning any gold in the road race events for 10 years, we will now return home with two,” said Harrif.
On a personal note, Harrif achieved a unique feat in SEA Games cycling history. He also won two track golds – in scratch and team pursuit – in Indonesia, in 2011.
“I switched to road racing after 2007. Now, I have equalled my Indonesia achievement,” he added proudly.
Malaysia topped the cycling competition with two golds and three bronzes. Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines took home one gold each.
The Star Online