It was a day of shock, drama and suspense, but the Under 23 budding cyclists from Team Myanmar emerged victorious in a talent-packed final of the 2018 OCBC Cycle Speedway Southeast Asia (SEA) Championship.
Despite finishing behind the more highly-favoured teams from the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore, Myanmar’s cyclists rode an inch-perfect race and climbed to the top of the final standings after the other teams were penalised for infringements at the changeover.
Team Malaysia was highly touted as one of the favourite, but two-time champions captained by Anuar Manan suffered a shock exit in the qualifying rounds.
Held at the Singapore Sports Hub, the finals saw the breakaway riders from renowned regional sprinters Thailand and the Philippines exchanged early attacks, with Singapore managing to stay close behind. After launching into the sprints at breakneck speed, the lead riders of Thailand, Philippines and Singapore managed to stretch their lead by more than half a lap, as riders from the chasing pack executed a patient game plan with one another.
The plucky riders from Myanmar managed to stay within sight of the chasing pack but were unable to mount a serious challenge on the front three. However, the changeover saw a flurry of activity and the riders from the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore were adjudged to have made infringements during their dismount and mounting of their bicycles in the relay race format.
This resulted in a 10-second penalty for both the Philippines and Thailand teams, while Singapore were given a 20-second penalty for two transgressions.
In the end, Myanmar leaped frog to the top spot of the podium in 20:40.317 and earned their maiden OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship title. Philippines and Thailand completed the podium just nine seconds behind.
Mr Aung Myo Naing, team manager and coach of Myanmar, expressed his happiness at the unexpected win: “It is an amazing feeling to have won our first title. We did not expect to win today as the other teams have better sprinters than us, but thankfully we had a clean changeover in the transit area. Every year we try to get better, and we have been training for three months for this. Our previous best result was a 4th place finish in 2015.”
Mr Aung added, “This is good preparation for us as we train for SEA Games 2019. Our whole team is currently under 23 years old, and this event is good exposure for them.”
OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship
After a shock second-place finish at last year’s edition of the OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship, the Specialized Roval Mavericks Team 1 made sure to put in a dominant display to reclaim their throne as the best cycling club in Singapore.
In a tremendous display of athleticism, the lead rider of the Mavericks Team 1 established an unassailable early lead after the changeover. The anchor rider of the Mavericks Team 1 stayed close to the chasing pack, before launching into a sprint in the final laps. Team Allied World Kemp Technologies and MatadorRACING weaved in and out on the circuit, each taking turns to lead making it difficult for the Mavericks. In the end, it was a treat for the bellowing crowd as the riders from all three teams finished so closely to one another that fans had to eagerly wait for the official results.
In a result fitting of the performance, the Mavericks stopped the clocks at 18:12.793, narrowly edging out Allied World and Matador. Team Anza and Specialized Roval Mavericks Team 2 finished fourth and fifth respectively in the final.