The programme, which concluded at the National Sports Institute in Bukit Jalil yesterday, sought athletes from other sports with the ability to be transformed into track cyclists – especially those who are mature athletes who have reached a plateau, unable to compete within the ranks of the sport or are plagued by injury.
Despite a lukewarm response from mature athletes, Beasley said he had identified three, from the 30 attendees, who have the potential to become good track cyclists.
“We expected more mature athletes who could be trained to go on to be the next Azizulhasni (Awang) or Rizal (Tisin) but those who came here were all in their early 20s and had little or no exposure of high-level training,” said Beasley.
“But the results so far is encouraging because we see that they have the mindset to succeed and that’s important too.”
The 30 athletes, mostly from athletics, rugby, gymnastics as well as from outside the system trying their luck, attended the programme. The only notable elite athlete in the fray was hammer thrower Tan Song Hwa.
The programme marks the beginning of the two-phase project dubbed “Ride with Pride” in search of a bigger talent pool in track cycling. The first phase, which will end in December next year, aims to find two sprinters and 16 endurance cyclists aged between 17-27 years.
The second phase, from 2014-2016, aims to unearth 16 cyclists from the younger age bracket between 16-21 years old.
Beasley explained the programme was not meant to steal athletes from other sports but “to give them a chance to fulfil their potential outside their current sport”.
“We don’t want to take the star athletes. We are targeting those who just can’t compete among themselves or those who are bogged down with injuries,” he said.
“A good example is Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Romero of the United Kingdom. She was a world class rower (having won the silver medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 in the foursculls event) but a persistent back injury forced her to turn to cycling. And she went on to become a world class cyclist (winning the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics in 2008).
“The project will culminate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro ... we are certain that we can create a bigger pool of cyclists this time.
“We’ll conduct the second programme in Sabah and Sarawak in January but those keen on attending the programme in Kuala Lumpur can still do so at the NSI.”
Athletes can contact programme co-ordinator Mohd Izham at 012-9105331 for details.