Story by Priscilla Chua. Photos by M. Chandran
Changi Coast Road, Sunday, August 25, 2013 – Mohamed Elyas and Benedict Joseph Lee overcame sweltering conditions on the second day of the Singapore National Road Cycling Championships to come in first and second respectively in the Junior Boys road race event.
The weather proved to be the main challenge for the riders in an otherwise straightforward 70-kilometre route that consisted of seven laps on a flat course. “It was quite windy as well. I broke away from the start of the race and was in the wind the whole day,” said 17-year-old Elyas from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, who capped a fine win with a dominant display.
Benedict, who is 18 this year and waiting to enter National Service, was gracious in defeat. “It was hot and windy,” Benedict said. “I felt pretty strong from the beginning but I knew there were a few people to mark. I just kept cool and relied on my teammates, but I guess the winner was just stronger!”
Both Elyas and Benedict are undoubtedly up and coming talents in the local cycling scene. At the National Championships last year, Elyas had emerged victorious in the Youth Boys road race, and Benedict was the individual time trial champion in the National Junior category.
The similarities do not end here, as the two young men are clearly focused on what their next steps are in their fledging cycling careers.
When asked about his aspirations for cycling, Elyas shared that he would love to keep winning the National Championships, and his current goal is to break into the top five at next year’s Asian Cycling Championships.
As for Benedict, gaining more race experience will be his objective in the next few years. “It would be great to win these races, but also to be exposed to more international races, especially around the South-east Asian and Asian regions.”
On this particular Sunday afternoon, the families of Elyas and Benedict braved the blistering heat and turned out in full force to cheer them on. And strong family support seems to be a key inspiration in the boys’ pursuit of their cycling dreams.
“I’m very grateful for my family’s support as it gives me motivation and the willpower to strive for high achievements, as I do not want to disappoint them and let their efforts go to waste!” said Elyas, for whom cycling is very much a family affair. His mother and two siblings ride as well, while his father Mohamed Yusoff was a competitive mountain biker who had won multiple national championships.
Benedict paid tribute to his parents and coach Samuel Yang, a former national rider, for their patience and guidance.
“Apart from strongly supporting me in my cycling, my parents and coach have been constantly encouraging me to focus on building character and discipline through this sport. Hence, bad results after a race will not disappoint them, but displaying a bad attitude after a race will be a big no from them. Also, both my coach and parents have sacrificed a lot of their personal time to be with me during training and racing, and I am extremely grateful to them for it.”
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