Springboard to success

COMMONWEALTH Games gold medallist Josiah Ng is hoping to use tomorrow night’s Wangaratta Wheelrace as a prelude to his assault on the track world championships.

The Melbourne-based Malaysian star is the headline act for the $2000 wheelrace, his last event before next month’s worlds in Belarus, where he will compete in the keirin.

“It would be nice to win in Wangaratta,” Ng said.

“Sometimes it’s all down to the handicapper.

“We thought it would be something fun to do.

“It will be my last race before world championships.

“I’ll be shooting to make the final; my form’s been pretty good.”

In a boost to the event’s profile, 12 riders from the Malaysian sprint and endurance teams will compete in numerous cycling events at the Norm Minns Oval.

Ng, the current Commonwealth gold medallist and a three-time Olympic track cyclist, is also vying for a medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Wangaratta Sports Club manager Graeme Taylor said having the Malaysian team was a coup for the carnival.

“He’s probably one of the highest profile cyclists to appear in Wangaratta since I can remember,” Taylor said.

“It’s right up there with Baden Cooke and Shane Kelly, both winners of the wheelrace.”

The Wheelrace and $3500 Gift will both be held under lights for the second straight year, with more than $14,000 in total prizemoney up for grabs.

The carnival has attracted both local and interstate runners, with the rich 3200m event, worth $2500, particularly popular.

Taylor said entry numbers had lifted across the board.

“We’ve actually got a 15 per cent increase in foot running entries and similar entries in the cycling, obviously boosted by the Malaysian track cycling team competing,” Taylor said.

“They’d been racing in Tasmania and contacted us and we are thrilled to have them.”

Wangaratta star Alex Meyland, who is part of the Brunswick Cycling Club contingent, will defend his Wheelrace title, while Cam Dunbar will be aiming for back-to-back Gift crowns.

The Gift final will be held at 8.58pm and the Wheelrace final at 9.45pm.

The carnival runs from 2.40pm to 10.30pm.