Azizulhasni Awang in a file photo. He has qualified to the semi-finals of the 200m sprint in the Asian Cycling Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. – Bernama Photo
PETALING JAYA: Azizulhasni Awang looks to be back at his best after booking a spot in the semi-finals of the 200m sprint event at the Asian Cycling Championships (ACC) in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The 26-year-old track cyclist took a step closer to reclaiming the ACC sprint title he won in 2009 after beating his pal and defending champion Josiah Ng 2-0 on Saturday to set up a last-four clash against China’s Bao Saifei.
He was also the sprint title winner in 2008.
If Azizulhasni marches on, he should face either South Korea’s Kang Dongjin or Japan’s Seichiro Nakagawa, who are battling it out in the other semi-final.
It has been quiet so far this season for Azizulhasni and he will be keen to stamp his mark at the ACC.
The Cali World Championships in February were forgettable for him as he was disqualified in the second round of the keirin, in addition to being dumped in the first round of the 200m sprint knockout stages.
It’s about time he got back on the podium with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian Games drawing near.
“It was as challenging as ever to race against Josiah as both of us know each other very well,” said Azizulhasni, who came out second fastest in the flying lap qualifying on Friday.
“I will have to give 110% for the next stage to stand any chance of winning the gold. I certainly want to win it badly!”
Muhd Edrus Yunos, who clinched a sprint treble at the recent South-East Asian Track Grand Prix, made it as far as the quarter-finals but was eliminated by Nakagawa.
But there was good news from the junior riders as Muhd Firdaus Zonis and Mohd Shariz Efendi Mohd Shahrin also made it through to the last-four.
Firdaus, who is the world No. 5 in the UCI junior rankings, had no problem overcoming Li Chin-yi of China 2-0 while Shariz fended off Japan’s Ryuta Nogami with a 2-1 victory.