Azizulhasni proves size is no barrier to becoming world champ

Azizulhasni proves size is no barrier to becoming world champ
Azizulhasni Awang holds his gold medal as he celebrates after winning the men's keirin final at the World Track Cycling championships in Hong Kong, Thursday, April 13, 2017. AP Photo
KUALA LUMPUR: National elite cyclist Azizulhasni has proven that having a small build is not an obstacle to become a world champion.

Nicknamed 'The Pocket Rocketman', Azizulhasni won the keirin event at the UCI World Track Cycling Championships in Hong Kong, yesterday.

The diminutive cyclist said he never gave up hope throughout the past 10 years in hunting for the title, although he admitted it was not easy to compete with foreign cyclists who were taller and bigger than him.

"Everyday during the training session I kept pushing the boundaries hard. People said I coudn't succeed in sport because of my physical size, I know I'm racing with giants, big powerful guys out there," he said on his Instagram account, azizulawangofficial.

Azizulhasni said the victory was also a sweet moment for him as he had previously only managed the silver medal in 2010, and bronze in 2015 and 2016.
The Terengganu-born rider also won the silver medal in the sprint event of the 2009 world championships in Poland.

The 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medallist faced stiff competition from five other riders before reaching the finish line to win the gold medal in the race held at the Hong Kong Velodrome Park last night.

Azizulhasni said in addition to working hard in training, he also never gave up praying to achieve success.

"It's an unbelievable night for me. I've been trying so hard to get this world title. I ended up with bronze and silver twice, and lost only by millimetres, but I never gave up. I believed if I keep working hard and believing in myself, my time will come," he said

Azizulhasni also thanked Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who had always given him support and inspiration to become an excellent athlete and a role model to the younger generation.

"Thanks for the motivational words, especially before the race and I kept my promise to you to bring back the Rainbow Jersey, I'm now the world champion," he said.

Meanwhile, Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman congratulated Azizulhasni over the feat, saying he was proud of the native of Dungun in becoming the first Malaysian to win the world title in the track cycling event.

"I am confident that the performance shown by Azizulhasni Awang can inspire our cycling team TSG to produce more successful biking athletes," he said in a statement here today.

In a related development, Ahmad Razif said he hoped the velodrome promised to be built in Dungun by the Federal government as announced by Khairy, would benefit cyclists in the state.

"We hope it will become a world class velodrome, where everyone will come to practice. It will also attract more cycling enthusiasts and produce more champions," he added. -- Bernama