It was a disastrous outing for cycling at the Laos SEA Games and the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) should admit failure and surrender the road development programme to the National Sports Council (NSC).
Not only the team failed to win any gold medals, but the games showed that neighbouring countries like Vietnam and Thailand have already developed a team of young and fast riders that look set to challenge the best in the continent for the next few years, including at the Asian Games in Guangzhou.
The target was two golds but the team came back with only two bronze and a silver from women cyclist, Noor Azian Alias. Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia were the strong successful teams while the Phillippines did not participate because of some internal problems in the federation.
By right, the OlympicCouncil of Malaysia (OCM) should come out and say that because of this failure the road team cannot go to Guangzhou. But that would not happen because OCM is all about staying in office and all support is needed, even though it will destroy the sport.
In fact, OCM might even allow the team to go through "other doors" like results of trials held somewhere and of course there is the Category B thing, which should be stopped once and for all. (I will write about that later)
After the 1998 Commonwealth Games, former NSC Director General, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad put the track development under the government agencies' wings and left the road programme in the hands of the national body.
The move has become a success story for cycling who now have internationally renowned track riders like Azizulhasni Awang and Rizal Tisin.
But what was left in the hands of MNCF failed miserably. The Le Tour de Langkawi has failed to inspire the development of domestic road cyclist and many are surprised that the local riders cannot do well even though the races are on our own territory, which the riders should be familiar with and by now should have mastered them.
Since 1998, MNCF would come to NSC for funds to send the road teams for tournaments and other stints and the NSC mostly helps out. But, the helping period is over, and now the NSC should take over and develop the road racing team, which is totally dependent on government funding.
And, obviously, the MNCF leadership must take responsibility and step down. Now is the best time to do so and in the best interest of sports move aside and let others take cycling to greater heights.
The reasons for failure is obviously the lack of proper coaching and preparation besides lack of any serious efforts to identify and trainlope potential riders for the future.
Based on the UCI registered code, Vietnamese riders are between 20 to 22 years old while Indonesia has the oldest riders with Malaysian riders slightly younger.
Bui Minh Thuy (Vie), the winner of 160.3km Massed Start Race and his compatriot Mai Nguyen Hung showed speed and strength in the race and older riders could not match them. Malaysia's Mohd Zamri Saleh only managed a bronze while 24 year old Annuar Manan came in 16th, almost 15 minutes behind.
Malaysia's other road riders are age-ing and lose out on speed, again due mostly to lack of proper coaching and preparation. Ahmad Pallani Ali, Zamri Saleh and Razif Mohd Salleh are all 26 years old while Ng Yong Li is 24.
Indonesia's older rider were more successful than our riders. Ryan Ariehaan (30 years old) won the gold medal in the 40km Individual Time Trial while his older teammate, veteran Tonton Susanto (36) won the silver. Another Vietnamese, Mai Cong Hieu took the bronze.
The sad story of road cycling in Malaysia is that the riders have not proven themselves since the LTdl started in 1996. The MNCF is thinking of putting up more than one team for the tour but what good is that if even with one team, we have failed miserably.
One silver and two bronze from eight events - that is failure and if you cannot accept and admit it, than we are heading for bigger problems in the future.
I hope the MNCF leadership would do the right thing and let NSC take over the road programmes and they (the leadership) themselves give way to new leaders to lead the sport. For so long you have been going on trips even though your own state does not even have one rider in the national team.
No need to talk about national team, some don't even have one rider. But, they want to go as Team Managers and officials to as many meets as possible. Now is the time to change.