Local hero: Keirin world champion Azizulhasni Awang (centre) posing for a photo with his fans in Kuala Nerus, Terengganu, yesterday. — Bernama
PETALING JAYA: Newly-crowned world champion Azizulhasni Awang was rewarded with a RM200,000 windfall on his return to his home state in Terengganu.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman yesterday announced the cash incentive from the state government at a function held to celebrate Azizul’s historic feat in winning the keirin gold at the Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong last week.
Dungun-born Azizul put up a blistering ride in the final to become Malaysia’s first world champion in an Olympic discipline.
“The state government is very proud of Azizul. He’s the first South-East Asian cyclist to become a world champion and this incentive is to appreciate the sacrifices and all his hard work to be what he is today,” said Ahmad Razif.
“The state government would also like to thank his parents and family for their support to make Azizul a world champion,” he added.
At the function, Ahmad Razif also announced that Terengganu would build a velodrome in Dungun at a cost of RM10mil.
“We will also give any Terengganu athlete a monthly incentive of RM2,000 if they qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020,” said Ahmad Razif.
Azizul, who wore his rainbow jersey (winner’s jersey) back to Kuala Terengganu, said he felt honoured with the reception and reward given by the Terengganu government.
“I saw many billboards celebrating my achievement. I want to thank the Mentri Besar and everyone who have provided the help all this while.
“There have been ups and downs in my career, including getting pierced by a wood splinter in my leg (at the 2010 World Cup in Manchester, England), the ‘Save Gaza’ gloves controversy at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi where I was almost disqualified. Then, I managed to achieve success by winning an Olympic bronze in Rio last year.
“All this will spur me to work harder to realise another dream. I want to bring home the first Olympic gold in Tokyo.
“I also hope to inspire more youngsters to pick up cycling,” said the 29-year-old, who will be in Nilai today to test the newly-built National Velodrome with Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.