“Malaysia will win at least 10 gold medals in the 29th SEA Games Tracking Cycling.”
National Track Cycling coach John Beasley spoke to us confidently during one of the training sessions at Velodrome National Nilai.
Truth to be told, the recently concluded SEA Games was made another history. John’s athletes, the ever-eminent Azizulhasni Awang and Fatehah Mustapa clinched the 110th and 111th gold medals for Malaysia in Tracking Cycling.
Having coached the world-class cyclists for several years, it has led to the creation of Malaysia’s first medal in Rio Olympic Track Cycling. John giggled, and began sharing his passion, love and knowledge of the sport of cycling through coaching.
He has discovered the drive and natural aptitude to be a coach by being brought up in the cycling community. Having grown up in a cyclist family, John found a way to give back to the future generations and perceive and interpret what a rider of any ability should endeavor.
From taking the time to comprehensively review, explain every factor and element in athlete’s performance, John has truly seen and been a part of it all.
HOW HE FOUND HIS CALLING
Australian John Beasley comes from a family of three generations with vast experience and proficiency in cycling. Aside from running Beasley Cycles Pty Ltd together with wife Vicki Beasley who was prosperous, winning South Australian road titles and South Australian Cyclist. John is a professional coach at an international, world and Olympic level.
The Beasley family fame in the cycling fraternity is legendary. The images throughout the store have been tributes to the life and vigour of cycling that thrive in his family and the history held within its walls.
Having spent several years on developing his skills and coaching the world’s best cyclists which included Anna Wilson, Ben Day, Katie Mactier, Mitchell Docker and Gary Neiwand, John started as a professional coach with the Victorian Institute of Sport for a period of 4 years as the assistant coach. During that period, he was employed by the Australian Cycling Federation as National Junior sprint Track Coach.
In 2004, John left the Victorian Institute of Sport to ripen his dexterity as a high-performance coach joining the Drapac Cycling Team. In 2005, he was appointed Director Sportif of the AG2R cycling team, where he helped to attain creditable results in races such as the Victorian Sun Tour.
The following year, John was appointed as the Australian National Senior Sprint coach for one season before turning to Road. In 2006, John returned to a coaching role on the velodrome where he was appointed National Track Coach by the Malaysian Institute of Sport. The position he has been holding such as coaching professional track cyclists like Josiah Ng, a former cyclist, Azizulhasni Awang, Olympic medalist and world champion and Fatehah Mustapa, an Olympic finalist.
MORE THAN A CYCLING COACH
It is no surprise to call John someone who is more than a cycling coach. To his cyclists, he has absolutely reached to a degree, where constructing an intimate bonding, shaping a reliance to each other and keeping the relationship as a close-knit family are the incentives and motivations John could provide.
Relationships are the foundation of coaching and even though a relationship is a two-way street, it is John’s responsibility to pursue a genuine relationship with his athletes. He often focuses on positive, personal relationships with his athletes, purely to ensure success beyond their records on the track.
Additionally, John holds place of respect and authority, yet feels reachable enough for his athletes to open up and view him as a role model and mentor. “Azizul and Fatehah are like my children, they are like my family.” John said. Being someone who had never been to and known Malaysia before year 2006, it took John a while to give the employment offer a go.
Coming from Australia, the first thing he looked at was the different culture in Malaysia, albeit the challenge. However, he learned about the culture from his riders. “I do eat a lot of Malaysian food. I celebrate Hari Raya with them every year in Australia; whereas during Christmas, I prepare dishes for them. We celebrate special days together. We might come from different backgrounds, but that enhances our rapports.”
The biggest challenge to John, however, was his understanding of Malaysian system. Of course, the way of thinking and getting things done between Malaysian and Australian were quite divergent. “In the beginning, I would teach them the basics, and we would work through the performance. The rest is pretty easy, it’s just hard work. Also, it’s about respect.” John underlined that it’s not too challenging to live together, all they need is getting to know each other.
“It is the closeness and commitment. Athletes who are able to form close attachment to me are more likely to feel secure in exploring their roles in sport and pushing their boundaries.” John also expressed that he has been lucky enough to find these raw diamonds. These young boys (John’s athletes) are like diamonds, they are precious and special.
THE MAN BEHIND A WORLD TITLE
John believes the core of any good coaching and programming philosophy, is the ability for an athlete to find the contentment in what they are doing. When he initially came to Malaysia, Malaysian cycling program was still a humble beginning, yet the sport was subtly going to pop up.
The news came as an astonishment to the nation, when Azizulhasni Awang bagged Malaysia’s first medal in the Rio Olympic Track Cycling. Later again, he sprinted his way to win the Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong. Indubitably, the country eyes set their visions on John, the significant man behind a world champion.
Having played a key role in Azizul’s success, John called Azizul a naturally gifted guy. “He has the full package which is more complete than other athletes. He has a different personality and mentality. Seeing him achieved in the World Championships, I would say, it’s the cycling accomplishment I am most proud of.” John spoke.
However, not every race is successful, how does John overcome disappointment when the outcome of a race is not anticipated? John replied to us that everyone deals with disappointment. Partially, it is about luck. Every time after an unsuccessful race, he would learn from the failure and work things out with his athletes. “That’s how we can make improvements to our performance.”
Other than cycling results, John stressed that educating the Malaysian culture is vital as the nation should comprehend how Malaysian cycling program works. “For instance, the Minister of Youth and Sports is doing the best he can, in order to ameliorate the sports industry.” Also, John’s major focus will be the Olympic Tracking Cycling in Tokyo 2020.
To John, the most satisfying part of coaching is that he lives his passion every day. It is all about optimizing the 100 percent of what he has got. Working in athlete management requires dedication and may involve long hours in the process, and he believes that having the right skills, expertise and passion about sports, coaching can provide a fulfilling and rewarding career path. Furthermore, cycling in Malaysia is greatly recognized, and it is growing. “In the long term, Malaysia is an incredible place with remarkable coaching and support staffs.”
Having involved in the same old same old, John, however has never thought of retirement. He could not see himself sitting around and thinking what to do. “I guess, I could be a fisherman. I can’t imagine myself doing something else. I wanted to be a professional cyclist, but that didn’t work out. So, I would just be a better cycling coach. I hope that I will learn and keep up to the latest trend.” John told us laughingly.
Towards the end of conversation with this passionate cycling coach, John confessed that cycling is a real passion to him, and he truthfully loves Malaysia. “It is important to determine what your goals are and what it will take to achieve them. If it’s worth achieving, it will require accountability, determination and passion, while remembering why you began down that path. After all, a goal without a plan is only a wish.” John ended the interview.