Faisal Unfiltered

Unity through motorsports

We can all come together when we have heroes to cheer for

Malaysia’s new two-wheeled sporting heroes

Did you watch the men's singles final at the Olympics this year? I think the majority of Malaysians did and through the heroics of Lee Chong Wei we lived every single point as if it were our own. I remember the moments of joy, anguish, hope and disappointment, which is something you probably felt too. Last weekend, Malaysians experienced the same thing again when a 21-year old from Banting and a precocious 18-year old who is plying his trade in Spain decided to show the world we can produce some excellent motorcycling talent as well.

The story of how Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Hafizh Syahrin electrified a wet 2012 Malaysian MotoGP will go down in the annals of motorsports as one of the most remarkable and unexpected performances ever seen. Everybody expected the two home riders to be motivated in front of their home crowd. Nobody expected the results they would achieve.

Of the two, Zulfahmi was the less surprising because the Banting native is now in his third season on the MotoGP circuit and had already punctuated 2012 with some front row starts and a pair of fourth place finishes. Pole position was a nice surprise but the way he held his own up till the final corner against the rider who would go on to win the Moto3 championship was amazing.

Watching from home, I could hear the roar of the crowd drowning out the sound of the bikes and each lap I was either burying my face to avoid jinxing him, screaming curses at Jonas Folger and Sandro Cortese (they're German so it's ok to do so) or saying silent prayers hoping for Fahmi to pull away. In the end, he got edged out at the chequered flag but he still received the loudest cheers from the grandstand.

Hafizh doing his thing in Moto2 was just pure magic. Though he qualified 27th on the grid, the teenager swallowed up the entire field, led a few laps and eventually finished fourth. Every pass he did was mesmerising, every wobble of the bike in the wet was heart stopping and every time he passed the front straight, people screamed themselves hoarse in appreciation.

There was pandemonium in the pits when the race ended and if the world did not know whom this boy was before the race, he's probably on the lips of all the Moto2 team managers today. That's what happens when you embarrass the entire field on what should be a customer off-the-rack machine.

Great, but what you may ask is the point of it all? Well, look at the bigger picture and you'll see how everybody came together to cheer on our sporting heroes. There were no ethnic, economic, age or gender lines drawn because for that weekend, we were all united and happy to call ourselves Malaysians. I don't know about you and I don't care about your political or personal preferences but I think if we can all come together and unite under a common cause, we'll all live healthier and happier lives.

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