APG2018: Para-cyclists make case for Singapore velodrome
11 October 2018
They went fast this morning (11 Oct), then they went even faster in the race for bronze medal in the afternoon.
And even if the Singapore tandem of Emily Lee Seok Bee and Sarah Tan Hui Zhen did not manage to add a second medal to their Asian Para Games campaign in Jakarta, their performance was enough for the President of Singapore Para Cycling, Christian Stauffer, to award them full marks.
Emily Lee and Sarah Tan in full flight at the Jakarta International Velodrome. Photo: Sport Singapore
Visually-impaired Emily and her pilot Sarah had barely rested after winning bronze in the 72km road race on Tuesday (9 Oct) when they were in action again, this time at the Jakarta International Velodrome on the opening day of track cycling.
Competing in the women’s 3,000m individual pursuit (B) event, they clocked the fourth fastest time in qualifying (4:17.596) to force themselves into the bronze medal race.
Up against the Malaysian tandem for the medal, they clocked 4:12.517, a full five seconds faster. But their opponents stepped up as well to deny Singapore the bronze.
Commenting on the race, Stauffer said: “I think it was a very hard race today and they did very well. They went five seconds faster than they did this morning, which means they gave everything they had.
“The Malaysian tandem were always in front so it was a fair result and a logical sequence. We have no regrets. Our girls really dug deep to go up to that level and that five-second improvement is huge.”
What Stauffer did not mention was that the Team Singapore riders managed a good result in spite of having to train without ready access to a velodrome. While Malaysia boasts two indoor velodromes apart from outdoor ones, such a facility remains an idea for land-scarce Singapore.
This means that Singapore’s track riders, both para and able-bodied, have to make trips overseas to learn the art of racing in a velodrome.
Emily Lee in full concentration mode and listening to instructions from her pilot Sarah. Photo: Sport Singapore
Said 28-year-old Sarah, who works for Singapore national airlines: “Track is more of a technical sort of race. There’s the start which we hardly have time to practice because we have limited chances to go overseas for training, also working with aerobars and different wheels – those actually make a difference on the track.
“We had a plan and we managed to execute the plan correctly and it went well. Given we have quite limited track time, I think it’s quite an achievement. Especially when you consider the Indonesians train on this track, the Malaysians are on the track almost every day and the Koreans too.
“It’s not a matter of easier or harder to ride in a velodrome compared to road, rather managing how we cycle, knowing how to take the faster line, those are some of the technical things and we still have a lot to master.”
As for Emily, 48, who runs a shop with her husband, it was a good race despite finishing fourth.
“I think I’ve given my everything. I guess I have to continue training harder and come back stronger next time,” she said.
The duo have one more event to go, which is the 1,000m time trial on Saturday (13 Oct), and Stauffer says recovery would be crucial.
“They’ve had a tough campaign, with first the road races in scorching conditions and now here,” he said.
“We will work with the team for their recovery, their performance on Saturday will depend on how well they recover with the right food and enough rest.”
Men’s 4,000m Individual Pursuit (B)
Tee Wee Leong + pilot Ang Kee Meng: 5:02.271, 7th
Jessen Ng Hang Siew + pilot Tan Weijie: 5:14.458, 9th
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