Weighing on the JCM controversy that has erupted on social media, Josiah, a Malaysian professional track cyclist, has addressed the Malaysian cycling and sports community in a lengthy FB post
Writing on his official Facebook page, the three-time Olympian said that "JCM is an initiative with the objective of promoting a local racing culture with the aim of identifying a local pool of talent with the potential of representing Malaysia on the world stage"
The former Malaysian Olympic and Commonwealth Games cyclist added that there is more to cycling competitively than winning prize money. Narrating his own experience in response to the criticism on social media over the "measly" prize money that were given out to young cyclists at the Junior Cycling Malaysia (JCM) event, Josiah wrote:
"There were many moments that I could have adopted the RM10 mindset and just complained or quit. But I didn't and looking back, I received something that RM10, RM100, RM1,000, or even RM1,000,000 can't ever buy."
He added that he has lived beyond his dreams and has experienced things he would have never had the opportunity to otherwise. "I have travelled the world, met amazing people, and represented my country at some of the most prestigious events in the world. Looking back, I got a lot more out of the sport than I would have ever imagined."
In the Facebook post, which has been shared for over 4,700 times, Josiah spoke of his experience as a young cyclist growing up in the USA, narrating it through a negative voice named as "RM10 boy"
Josiah, who always had an affection and curiosity for the bicycle, wrote, "When I was 14 years old, I decided to stop dreaming and make it happen. I recruited my grandma to help me bake 250 chocolate chip cookies to be sold for US$1 (RM3.90), door-to-door. It took me a while but I eventually earned that and bought my first used racing bike from my neighbour for USD250 which was a lot of money in 1994."
Adding that while he finished last in his first Criterium race at the age of 15, lapping last out of 30 kids, he, however, didn't listen to the "RM10 boy" who would have said, 'Aiyo, just quit already! You are not cut out for this.'
"I researched how to train properly and I set out to look for a coach to guide me. A few months later I got a top 5 placing! Two years later, I was the team captain. And the boy who won the first race I entered was on my team. I was his team captain," he wrote.
His parents, who according to Josiah had a "fairly traditional mentality", finally kicked him out of their house when he turned 18 years of age and yet hadn't given up cycling competitively
"On my 18th birthday, my father asked me nicely to pack my bags. I remember that day like it was yesterday. He shook my hand and said 'good luck son.' "RM10 boy" would have probably quit and stayed home to play video games," he wrote, adding that he had some great people that "let me stay with them for free. To feed myself, I used all the skill sets I had at that time. I tuned pianos, taught violin, and taught spinning classes."
Eventually, he entered the USA Junior National Championships and won a silver medal. After which he tried to get on the USA national team too. But they never replied to his letter that he had written to the US Cycling Federation. While the "RM10 boy" would have given up, Josiah wrote, he returned to Malaysia to join the national team.
"I remember going to the National Sports Council to have a meeting with the manager. I asked him if there were any local races. He told me there weren’t. I told him I was number 2 in the USA and convinced him to organise a local race for me to prove that I had potential. I wouldn’t leave his office until he agreed. The next week he called up all the top cyclists including Rosman Alwi and set up a race. I remember winning every race. He was impressed enough to tell me he would pay for my way the following year to represent Malaysia at the Asian Cycling Championships and SEA Games."
While preparing for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Josiah broke his wrist, teeth, nose, losing a lot of blood just four months before the Games. He was in the intensive care unit for several days. "All of my hard work had seemingly vanished," he wrote.
"'RM10 boy' would have said it's 'ok-lah, now you can go for a holiday'. I had to sit out of training for 6 weeks to heal up from my wrist surgery. 10 weeks before the Olympic games I seemingly had to start from scratch. I had lost 4kgs and a lot of my power. I soldiered on and surprisingly rode well enough to make the final."
Josiah added that over the next few years, his performance started to decline while expectations started to rise. "At the 2008 Olympics, I was expected to bring home Malaysia’s first gold medal. I fell short of that and was eliminated in the semi-finals."
He, however, changed his mindset and refocused on what was important. "I would go on to win most of my Asian Championships gold medals after 30. I won the Commonwealth Games after the age of 30. I did my best times after 30," he wrote.
Adding that while there were a lot of times in his life where he could have listened to the "RM10 boy" and focused on what was wrong with the situation and simply complained, he saw opportunities. "And if there were no apparent opportunities, I created them."
Emphasised the fact that cycling is tough, he further said, "What I have seen over the years is that the people who have made it to the top have a similar mindset. They ignore the negatives. They ignore people who say it can't be done. When something is too expensive, they find a way to make things happen. That is the mentality I would like to see more of the Malaysian sporting community adopt."
Writing that it's too easy to be negative these days, to go on social media and vent, but such activities are not productive, and he would rather want to see us encourage each other to enjoy sport
"Let us be good examples and to our youth by supporting clubs, initiatives, and events who want to build a better Malaysian sporting culture."
Josiah's Facebook post, although lengthy, has met with an overwhelming amount of positive support from Malaysians, who thanked him for sharing his inspiring life story and congratulated him for his success. You can check out the post, here.