HANOI: The national MTB cycling squad made history today when they bagged Malaysia’s first gold medal in the mixed cross-country relay event which took place in Hoa Binh province.

The best achievement of the squad before was winning the silver medal in the games’ 2011 edition.

In the final event today, the national squad comprising Ahmad Syazrin Awang Ilah, Zulfikri Zulkifli, Nur Assyira Zainal Abidin and Natahsya Soon clocked 1 hour, 23 minutes and 14 seconds to emerge victorious and present the 20th gold medal to Malaysia at the biennial games.

The host team comprising Van Linh Dinh, Thi Nhu Quynh Dinh, Van Nhat Bui and Thi Thom Ca had to settle for the silver medal after clocking 1’23.48s, while the team from Thailand comprising Phunsiri Sirimongkhon, Warinthorn Phetpraphan, Supuksorn Nuntana and Keerati Sukprasart took the bronze with 1’24.54s.

Team manager Firdaus Arshad described the success as an amazing achievement as the national squad, which was labelled as an ‘underdog’, managed to spring a surprise.

He said today’s achievement was also made possible by the strong fighting spirit at the national camp after Nur Assyira and Natahsya bagged silver and bronze medals respectively in the women’s cross-country event yesterday.

“Personally, I think this is an extraordinary success. We came today with a humble mindset but still confident to win a medal after yesterday’s event.

“We only set a target to bring home one medal from this year’s SEA Games,” he told Bernama when contacted.

The success of winning a silver and a bronze medal yesterday also ended Malaysia’s 11-year medal drought at the SEA Games.

In the 2011 edition in Indonesia, Masziyaton Mohd Radzi clinched the silver medal in the women’s cross country even, improving her own record of winning bronze at the 2009 SEA Games in Laos. — Bernama