UAE cyclist Yousif Mirza could not hide his disappointment after missing out once again on a podium finish at the Games.
Mirza, who placed fourth in the omnium race last Wednesday, just four points behind the bronze medallist, was denied third place yesterday in the road race after officials had to check video replay to judge the photo finish between the Emirati and Hong Kong’s Leung Chun Wing.
It revealed Leung crossed the finish line just centimetres ahead of Mirza, who was in disbelief over his bad luck.
"I’m really sad. I lost the bronze by less than a hand’s span. It’s just my luck, I don’t know how that happened," Mirza told Sport360.
"During the race I was doing so well and in the last 20km, the other cyclists started realising I was gunning for a medal and all the focus started to be directed towards me."
Mirza and Leung both clocked 4:08:51, but it was the Hong Kong cyclist who completed the podium, joining gold medallist Kyunggu Jang of South Korea and silver medallist, Arvin Moazami Godazri of Iran.
"I was so stressed and nervous during the moments from the finish line until the result was announced," Mirza added. "182km is not easy and in the end, fourth place is like last place in my opinion. It doesn’t make a difference once you’ve missed the medal.
"It’s just really tough to deal with the fact that I finished fourth twice, in the omnium and the road race. I really think it’s just bad luck."
There was also heartbreak for the Emirati showjumpers who were just two time penalties away from replacing Japan as bronze medallists in the team event yesterday.
Led by Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum and her mare Peanuts de Beaufour, the team that also included Abdulla Al Marri, Mohamed Al Owais and Moftah Al Dhaheri were unable to match the UAE’s runner-up showing from four years ago at the Guangzhou Games.
Al Owais went clear in the first round, riding Et Is Wie Es Is Kj, and the team went into the second round in sixth place with a total of nine faults.
In the second round, Sheikha Latifa and Al Owais both went clear, but the latter picked up one time penalty. Al Marri had one fence down while Al Dhaheri had two, bringing the team’s total to 14.
The Qataris flew to gold with three of their four riders going double-clear, Saudi Arabia took silver with four penalties while Japan edged the UAE into third with 12.
"The three teams that got the medals deserved them more than us," said Al Marri.
"It hurts when you’re that close and you know you could have done better. The only thing we needed is one less fault to get a medal. We were so close."
UAE’s top cyclist Yousif Mirza is determined to impress on his Asian Games debut.
Mirza is one of four cyclists who will be representing the Emirates at the 17th Asian Games, and he believes he can pull off a surprise in the road race.
The 25-year-old has spent the last 40 days at a training camp in France where he also participated in several events, coming first in the category 2 race Grand Prix du Pays Saint Pourçinois and third in a category 1 race in Lyon.
Mirza will be leading the UAE charge in the cycling events in both track and road races. He will participate in the 140km road race while in track, he will partner Ahmed Al Mansouri in the Team Pursuit and will take part in the Omnium.
He said: “I am very optimistic about my chances in the road race. We had a great training camp in France and I did very well in the races I took part in there. I feel I can get on the podium at the Asian Games, why not?
“In the road race, luck always plays a factor. The top contenders will be focusing on each other which means I can always take advantage of that and cause a surprise. This will be the first time for me at the Asian Games and for the road race, the distance isn’t too long, just 140km. The weather is good for us, around 25 degrees, so I’m optimistic.”
Mirza believes the team’s chances will be less in the track events and he says they will be using it more as a preparation for the upcoming Arab Championships.
With 92 days to go until the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge on 12 December, organisers have announced that this year will also include a Junior Challenge to encourage young riders in the UAE to get on their bikes.
The event, now in its fifth year, now attracts cycling enthusiasts from all over the world.
This year is no different with more than 2,000 riders expected to enter – four times more than when the event was launched.
The Junior Challenge will be held on Thursday 11 December, and junior cyclists aged 7-10 will be able to enter a 16km race, while 11-16 year olds will race over 32km.
Mini Rides for smaller children aged 6 and under will again be held on the day of the Spinneys 92 on 12 December. Registration for the Junior Challenge will cost 50dhs, with participants receiving a medal and t-shirt.
Four build up rides held in the lead up to the big day to give cyclists the opportunity to work on their fitness, practice riding in a group, and are particularly good for new cyclists.
The first build up ride was held last weekend over 35km at Nad Al Sheba cycle course, and attracted over 400 cyclists. The build-up rides increase in distance each time in preparation for the full 92 km race, with the next event being held on October 3 over 45km at the Nad Al Sheba cycle track.
Rides 3 and 4 will be held at the Dubai Cycling Course, with the third ride on 31 October on a 65 km course, and the final one on 28 November over 85km.