Kuching bred Olympic star

Josiah Ng posing after the medal ceremony of the men's keirin final cycling track event of the 2014 Asian Games at the Incheon International Velodrome in Incheon on September 25, 2014. Photo: AFP

Name Josiah Ng
Date of birth: 2nd Feb 1980
Place of birth: The Philippines


KUCHING: Cycling star Josiah Ng’s story is a remarkable one – of how a Kuching-bred boy overcoming all odds to become an Olympic star and Commonwealth Games champion.

Josiah may not fit the bill as a Sarawakian sportsman as he was not born in Sarawak but he grew up here until he reached the age of eight when his parents decided to emigrate to the United States.

(FILE photo) Josiah Ng competing in the men’s 1000m time trial race in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 26, 2014. Photo: AFP

Yet Sarawak accepted him with open arms, awarding him with cash incentives for winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi together with diver Pandelela Rinong and shooter Bibiana Ng Pei Chin in 2010.

Having learnt his craft in the US where he was exposed to cycling competitions in California, Josiah also had one trait in him that made him a class act – determination.

In his book which he co-wrote, he mentioned that he was kicked out of his house when he was 18 when he wanted to pursue his dream of making a career as a cyclist.

Then against all odds, he managed to convince the Malaysian team to accept him as a national cyclist after he moved back to live in Malaysia in 1999.

Josiah, who used to stay in Tabuan Jaya during his childhood days, said he used to dream of becoming a champion cyclist.

Growing up in California, his dream at first of making the US team was not possible as he was not a US citizen.

However living in the US meant he was exposed to the highest level of cycling as he watched the races at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, near his hometown of Loma, Linda.

Many cycling champs got their start at this race and went on to win the Olympics or world championships or the Tour de France.

Josiah finished last in his first race but he set up a goal to finish in the top five.

In the next race, he was able to defy the odds by finishing in the top five after coming up with a plan to train properly and competing in races every week.

In the run-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics, he suffered a nasty accident but didn’t give up his Olympic dream as six months later, he recovered from a broken wrist, nose and tooth, concussion to start training again.

(File photo) Josiah Ng (centre) competing to win the men’s keirin first round repechage heat 3 track cycling event in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 27, 2014. Photo: AFP

Before that he had won a silver at the Asian Games in 2002 and was the first Malaysian to win gold in track cycling at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India in 2010.

For his achievements, he was awarded Malaysian Olympian and Sportsman of the Year 2004.
“You can only control what you can control and ignore everything else” is his motto.

“My physical ability is only average so I try doubly hard. Triply hard to get what I want so badly,” he described himself in his autobiography published a few years ago.

In 2004, he became also the first Malaysian to ever qualify for the Olympics in track cycling. He also successfully qualified for the next two Olympics in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2010. In 2013, he suffered an accident at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Mexico.

A month later, then at 34, he called time on his competitive career as he could not climb up the rankings. He reached an all-time high of top six before the accident.

His last race was after the 2015 World Track Cycling Championships in Paris. He became the coach of the Thailand cycling team in their first Olympics in the sport.

Due to his success with the Thai national team, his coaching abilities were not left unnoticed as Sarawak State Sports Council engaged him as coach of the cycling team with his first assignment in the coming Sukma to be held in Johor next April.