Monday, 28 July 2014 | MYT 1:14 AM
Azizul rockets to a bronze in keirin for Raya cheer (updated)
Azizulhasni Awang celebrates his bronze medal finish in the keirin event. He finished behind Australia's Matthew Glaetzer and New Zealand's Sam Webster who took gold and silver respectively. - GLENN GUAN / The Star
GLASGOW: Top cyclist Azizulhasni Awang’s heart feels heavy having to be away from his family during this Hari Raya celebration.
Although he knows that this is the sacrifice he has to make as a national athlete, he still couldn’t help feeling homesick.
But he has promised to bring joy to his family, fans and the nation by making this Hari Raya celebration one of the best ever when he competes in his favourite event – keirin – at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
The event suits him to a T because of his small stature and he has done well on the international stage, with sterling performances at the World Championships and Olympic Games earning him the nickname Pocket Rocketman.
He won a silver at the world meet in 2010 and became the first Malaysian to enter the keirin final at the Olympic Games in London last year.
After the disappointment of losing in the men’s individual and team events on the first two days of the Games, the 26-year-old Azizul has promised to pedal his way to a gold medal on Hari Raya day.
“My heart is back at home. It is Hari Raya … I wish I could be with my wife and my child, my parents and family. It is a joyous occasion but … I’m not there,” said Azizul.
But he did manage to pen this heart-felt message for his daughter Amna Maryam: “Daddy will do the best over here for you my little one!”
“Leaving our families behind is one of the few sacrifices that we, as athletes, have had to do in a bid to bring glory and honour for our country, said Azizul.
“It’s all right. This will only motivate me to do well here.
“The keirin is the last chance for me here to win a medal after missing out in the sprint. I know the nation is counting on me … I promise to come good in my pet event.”
Azizul certainly knew how to walk the talk as he powered his way into the keirin final. He finished first in the semi-final heats ahead of Aussies Peter Lewis and Shane Perkins. It was however a disappointing finish for defending champion Josiah Ng who finished fifth.
In the other semi-final, it was a Kiwi one-two finish with Sam Webster and Edward Dawkins respectively making the final ahead of Australia’s Matthew Glaetzer.
But despite the superb semi-final ride, Azizul could only finish with a bronze medal in the final. Australia's Matthew Glaetzer took the gold ahead of New Zealand's Sam Webster.