Azizulhasni Awang shows off his bronze medal in keirin with gold medalist Matthew Glaetzer (middle) and silver medalist Sam Webster (left)
GLASGOW: Malaysia's Azizulhasni Awang was the smallest among the six competitors in the starting line of the men’s keirin final at Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome on Sunday.
But what a race he rode!
A confident Azizul, showed size did not matter when he powered his way to keep alive a hope for a gold medal until the finishing line but he had to settle for a bronze medal.
Australia’s towering Matthew Glaetzer exploded to the finishing line just slightly ahead of Azizul to take the gold while New Zealand’s Sam Webster came from behind to pip him for the silver at the nick of time.
The bronze was Malaysia’s first cycling medal as the curtain came down on the track competition on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Azizul had mixed emotion.
“I was really confident coming into the last two laps. I managed to stay comfortably behind Glaetzer and was breathing down his neck in the final lap,” said Azizul.
“Just half way before the finishing line, I was about to breakaway but Sam just cut in and was right beside me.
“It was a same scenario like in the previous Games in New Delhi. Then, I had sped on but I was disqualified for dangerous riding.
“There was a moment of flashbacks but I managed to squeeze in between the riders. Others were trying to close the gaps but I found the space. I just threw my bike as we approached the finishing line in super speed. It was so close.
“I was just thinking in my heart…please let it be a gold or a silver and when I saw the result, it was a bronze. I was disappointed.”
Azizul however, accepted that he lost to better riders on the day and it was good that he was not returning empty handed.
He hoped that the solitary medal would being cheer to his family, friends and fans – especially as the country celebrate Hari Raya.
“To win a bronze in this challenging field is still a big effort for me. This is for my family and my cycling team, who have really worked very hard. I hope this bronze will make them happy too.”
Azizul will not get back home to celebrate Hari Raya with his family after this.
He is heading to Germany tomorrow with the rest of the cycling team as part of their training stint for Asian Games in Incheon in September.
“I will miss them a lot. I will be only back to see them after the Asian Games. We will keep in touch via the social media. The focus now is to take my level higher in the upcoming Asian Games,” added the Asiad's keirin defending champion.