Zulhilmie's big break [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) IT has taken Mohd Zulhilmie Afif Ahmad Zamri longer than expected to arrive on the international stage, so the 21-year old wants to make it count when he starts Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) on Thursday.
Roped into the national squad alongside Yusrizal Usoff as late replacements for Ahmad Fakhrullah Alias and Mohd Ekbar Zaman Huri, Zulhilmie could be coach Aminudin Sulaiman's ace in the pack.
Touted as a hot prospect when he dominated the junior scene with Adiq Husainie Othman several years ago, Zulhilmie was yet to get his big break. Until now.
While Adiq Husainie established himself as a professional immediately after graduating as an elite rider, now featuring for China-based Champion System, Zulhilmie will only begin his first tenure as a professional after LTdL.
He has already agreed terms with the Terengganu Cycling Team and will join them after he teams up with Adiq Husainie for the Asian Championships Under-23 road races in New Delhi two weeks after LTdL ends.
"Yes, I realise it has taken some time for me to establish myself at senior level. But it is not too late.
"I'm still only 21, so this year I have to make my opportunities count," said Kuala Terengganu-born Zulhilmie.
"Adiq has had an advantage and opportunities came for him swiftly. Now is my chance to make an impact and begin to establish myself on the international stage."
He was met after joining the national squad for the presentation of national telecommunications company TM's sponsorship of LTdL as official telecommunications partner.
TM chief marketing officer Datuk Rozalila Abdul Rahman also announced the new TM Best Malaysian Rider Awards, to be contested among the 15 Malaysians who will feature in the race.
A total cash prize package of RM10,000 will be up for grabs, split into the best sprinter, climber and overall finisher categories.
The awards will be presented at the end of the final stage in Kuala Terengganu on March 2.
Zulhilmie will likely be among those contesting the best sprinter award, where he will take on the likes of Terengganu Cycling Team's Harrif and Zamri Saleh, as well as Synergy-Baku Cycling Project's Anuar Manan.
The finalised national squad that will start LTdL also includes Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi, Amir Mustafa Rusli, Nor Rizuan Zainal and Mohd Rauf Nor Misbah.
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