PETALING JAYA: Fatehah Mustapa has bounced back in style.
A day after finishing last on a technicality in the six-rider keirin final, Fatehah showed her mettle by claiming the women’s sprint title at the Japan Track Cup II at the Izu Velodrome in Shuzenji, Shizuoka.
It was Malaysia’s only gold on Sunday as Azizulhasni Awang, who won the keirin on Saturday, was eliminated in the men’s sprint quarter-finals.
Fatehah made a strong start, topping the timesheets in qualifying by clocking 11.291. In the first round, Fatehah easily beat Lee Eun-ji of South Korea.
She needed three heats to overcome Takako Ishii to reach the final. In the fight for the gold, Fatehah lost the opening heat to Kanako Kase but recovered to take the next two heats for her third gold in as many days.
Fatehah, who bagged the sprint and keirin titles at the Japan Track Cup I at the same venue on Friday was pleased with her efforts.
“I wanted to win the sprint badly today. I finished second in the keirin on Saturday, but was relegated for a technical infringement.
“I had a long break after the Track World Championships in Paris in February and the performances here gave me a good gauge of my abilities,” said Fatehah, who was the first Malaysian woman cyclist to win an Asian Games medal after taking the keirin silver in Incheon, South Korea, last September.
Azizul’s hopes of adding the sprint title ended after he was beaten by 2011 world champion Shane Perkins of Australian at the quarter-finals.
Earlier, Azizul clocked 10.119 to be the fourth fastest in the qualifying. He beat Japanese Shugo Hayasaka in the last 16 only to be stopped by Perkins in the chase for a semi-final spot.
Russian Denis Dmitriev, a silver medallist at the World Championships, came from behind to beat Asian Games sprint team gold medallist Im Chae-bin of South Korea in three heats to bag the gold.
“I am happy with my performances here but coach John (Beasley) said we need to improve further before the World Cup season starts in November.”
Meanwhile, Malaysia also bagged a bronze in the men’s junior keirin final on Sunday through Muhd Khairil Nizam Rasol. Another Malaysian, Jupha Somnet finished fourth in women’s Omnium race.
by Lim Teik Huat - The Star