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Zam, a coach building Olympic dreams at the World Cycling Centre




The track cyclists at the World Cycling Centre have a new coach this week: Harnizam Basri, alias “Zam”.  The WCC’s head track coach, Tim Carswell, has stepped aside for a few days to allow his student to take over.  It is a baptism of fire for this 27-year-old Malaysian who is the first coach to benefit from the Centre’s programme for interns.

This former track and road cyclist already passed his Coaching Diploma at the WCC in 2011. But now he wants to perfect his skills in order to achieve his goal:  get a pursuit team together for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

"The World Cycling Centre provides a lot of facilities and a bunch of high level athletes. And Tim Carswell is a great person to learn from,” he explains. “I am learning how to design training programmes and how to correctly use some specific tools like an SRM (power meter)."

Zam is making the most of this privileged contact with the Centre’s coaches and athletes both during training and at races on the track and road. As the preparation for a team pursuit is extremely challenging, he gains inspiration from the different disciplines taught at the Centre. Each day, at the velodrome, he accompanies the sprinters as well as the endurance riders, be it Olympic Vice-champion Guo Shuang or the Junior members of the Argentinean pursuit team.

Tim Carswell, the Centre’s New Zealand coach, is more than satisfied with his student: "His internship is certainly profitable to him,” he says. “But it's also helping the Centre as Zam has lent us a hand when we have been very busy. It means that he now has a good level in his job. I like the idea that this intern shuttles back and forth between the World Cycling Centre and his country.  He comes to us here in Switzerland with a certain experience, then he learns and takes this knowledge back to his own country, he learns again from his national team, then comes back to the Centre..."

When he goes back to Malaysia, in the middle of August, Zam will return to his position as coach with the Sports Council, his mission being to form a pursuit team. He currently has a pool of 16 athletes, from which he will choose the eight best this summer.  The first major challenge: the 2014 Asian Games.

“In the long term, I would like them to win medals at the UCI World Championships and qualify for the Olympic Games,” he explains. “Malaysia already has some good sprinters and I like the challenge that our Head Coach John Beasley has set me to create a high level endurance group. In my country, we have few climbers and a lot of athletes with rapid fibres. We have the potential to do well in the pursuit. We just need to put in a lot of work and have a good method.”

The method in question is concrete. While the coaching course at the WCC is partly theory and leads to a Diploma, the internship programme “is based on face to face education and sharing of knowledge under the mentorship of the WCC coaches,” specifies Keith Flory, Education and Training Manager at the WCC. "Through this new internship programme, the WCC wants to provide the coaches a next step and a continued trajectory.”

Other coaches will follow in the footsteps of Zam before the end of the season to complete an internship at the World Cycling Centre.

Photo:  Harnizam Basri and the WCC’s Track riders (copyright : UCI).


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