THE lack of funds is not going to stop the Brunei Darussalam Cycling Federation (BDCF) from sending cyclists to next Thursday's 15th Asian Mountain Bike Championships and inaugural Asian Junior Mountain Bike Championships in Melaka.
Three cross-country cyclists and two downhill cyclists were supposed to fly the flag for Brunei in the tournament touted as Asia's biggest mountain biking event.
But the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports was unable to provide funds for the trip, forcing BDCF to pay for it from its own pocket.
"The ministry said last week it cannot afford to send the team so we will have to pay for it ourselves," said BDCF president Hj Rosli Hj Mohidin during an interview yesterday.
"We (the BDCF) cannot afford to send the downhill cyclists so we will only be competing in the cross-country race.
"This is the commitment and solidarity of the association (the BDCF) to cycling in Asia, that is why even though we do not have enough funds, we are still going.
"There is no other way. We are a member (of the Asian Cycling Confederation) so we have to do something about it. That is our commitment," he stressed.
The country will be represented by Mohd Halid Sata, Mohd Nurjamri Johari and Mohd Raihan Abd Aziz at the competition organised by the ACC.
Mohd Halid's specialty is road races but since the BDCF could not find enough cyclists to compete in the cross-country event, he was roped in to join the team.
Mohd Halid has been training since last year while Mohd Nurjamri and Mohd Raihan have a few months of practice under their belt.
The cyclists will be accompanied in Melaka by their coach Abd Wahab DDW Hj Yusof and their manager Omarali Hj Ibrahim.
This year marks the second time the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) is hosting the meet.
According to MNCF's website, the Recreational Forest in Ayer Keroh formerly known as the Botanical Park will host the cross country events.
The downhill events will be held at Bukit Beruang.
MNCF president Abu Samah Wahab said competitors from 20 countries are expected to contest the championships, with nine nations already confirmed as of early this month.
Following in the concept of the annual Asian Cycling Championships, which hold the elite and junior events concurrently, this year's event will see for the first time the Asian Junior Mountain Biking Championships being contested alongside the elite meet.
MNCF's website said apart from hosts Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam have confirmed their participation.
Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uzbekistan are also expected to participate.
The last international outing the national cycling team competed in was the Asian Cycling Championships held in Samarinda, Kalimantan, Indonesia though they did not return with any medals.
Held from Aug 15 to 18, the tournament was supposed to be contested in Jakarta and Hj Rosli said that the change of venue could be one of the reasons why they did not perform well.
The national team currently have six cyclists on their roster but have been without a full-time coach for more than a year.
Tragedy struck the team last July when the national coach, Indonesian Puspita Mustika Adya, was hit by a car on the Muara-Tutong highway during training.
National cyclists Abdul Hadrie Mursidi, Md Halid as well as brothers Md Azbehidayatullah Zainul Ariffin and Md Arbeshadatul Farrani Zainul Ariffin were also involved in the accident.Puspita sustained a severe head injury and was released from his contract when he recovered, and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports is still trying to find his replacement. Hj Rosli said that the BDCF had sent letters to the cycling federations of Indonesia and Malaysia regarding the vacancy for a foreign coach. "We want to get a good foreign coach but it is up to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to approve our recommendation," he said earlier in the month. "Aside from the salary, the other things for the ministry to consider are housing and family concerns (education of children) of the foreign coach." President of the cycling body for the past 12 years, Hj Rosli is also one of the vice-presidents of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council.
Courtesy from Brunei Times