TOKYO, Aug 8 — National track cyclist Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom can only look back and wonder how far he could have gone in the keirin event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics had it not been for the injury he suffered in the first round yesterday.

The cyclist, who hails from Muar, Johor, felt that he could have advanced further had it not been for the injury as he had undergone a thorough preparation and his performance was also on the upward trend.

“I came here on an important mission on the first day, before the crash, my performance can be described as solid.

“Of course, I am disappointed with the result because I was expecting more (than just reaching the quarter-finals) as my performance was getting better. But anything can happen and there is nothing we can do about it,” he said.

Muhammad Shah Firdaus, 25 missed out on a place in the keirin semi-finals after finishing last out of the six riders in Heat Two of the quarter-finals this morning.

Yesterday, in Heat Two of the first round, the Olympic debutant was trying to squeeze through a gap when the accident occurred. Kazakhstan’s Sergey Ponomaryov then crashed into the fallen Malaysian.

The race had to be restarted after all the heats had been completed but the injured Muhammad Shah Firdaus and Ponomaryov were forced to pull out.

But it did not stop Muhammad Shah Firdaus from producing a spirited and powerful performance in the first round repechage to finish second behind Kwesi Browne of Trinidad and Tobago and join teammate Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang in the quarter-finals.

Muhammad Shah Firdaus was even taken to the Juntendo University Shizuoka Hospital for further treatment.

Commenting on today’s quarter-finals, Muhammad Shah Firdaus admitted that he was still in pain after yesterday’s crash.

“After the crash (yesterday), I struggled to continue racing but I was determined to do my best and qualify for the quarter-finals. I was even rushed to the hospital because my ribs hurt due to the impact of the fall and I had difficulty breathing. In fact, my leg is still swollen.

“I was sent home from the hospital at 10 pm local time (9 pm Malaysian time) yesterday I then had dinner and did whatever I had to do. I had a very short time to recover from yesterday’s race as the events today began in the morning.

“During today’s race I don’t know how to explain it. I felt pain when I wanted to sprint. The momentum of my pedalling was not the same as yesterday,” he said, adding that he felt no pressure during the race due to the guidance he received from his senior, Azizulhasni.

Muhammad Shah Firdaus, who trained in Melbourne, Australia prior to coming to Tokyo, said he would now like to spend some time with his family in Malaysia.

“Only after that will I think about the upcoming tournaments because I was told that the World Championships are expected to be held in France at the end of this year. But I still have to discuss it with my coach,” he said, adding that he is determined to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics. — Bernama

Source: Malay Mail