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Tuesday March 1, 2011

Azizulhasni hoping for swift recovery to compete in world meet

PETALING JAYA: Track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang is making swift recovery from the wound suffered in Manchester last month and there is hope yet that he may make the trip to Apeldoorn, Holland, for the world championships from March 23-27.

Azizul’s left calf was pierced by a nine-inch long wood splinter that came off the track after a nasty crash, involving three others, in the keirin final of the Track World Cup round in Manchester. But he got back on the bike to cross the finish line for the bronze medal.

Good progress: Azizulhasni Awang receiving medical treatment after his nasty crash in the World Cup in Manchester on Feb 19. – AFP

The stunning show of heroics earned him a place in history as the first cyclist to win three consecutive World Cup overall titles in keirin and plenty of admiration worldwide.

Azizul went for a delicate surgery to remove splinter at the Manchester Royal Infirmary before he was flown back to his base in Melbourne.

The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president, Datuk Naim Mohamad, said that Azizul, who is currently the No. 1 in the world keirin rankings, could now walk without crutches and was recovering well with no infection setting in.

“We were worried about him getting infected as it tends to happen with a flesh wound of this kind. Fortunately, the splinter did not come into contact with any tendon or bone,” he said.

A decision was initially made to exclude Azizul from the world championships in view of safeguarding his prospects of challenging an Olympic gold medal, which Malaysia have not won, in London next year.

But there is now a possibility of seeing Azizul donning the white jersey, traditionally worn by the World Cup champion, in Apeldoorn.

Naim, who is the manager of the team, added that the departure of the track cyclists for the world championships would be delayed by three days to March 18 to accommodate Azizul if he is ready to see action.

“We will submit his entry along with the others who had qualified for their events in the championships,’ he said.

“It is also our hope that he will recover fully by the middle of the month to take part in the championships as Olympic qualifying points are at stake.

“We do not know yet his actual fitness condition as he cannot train until the wound heals fully. Coach John Beasley will decide on this matter.”

Azizul has made Asia proud with consecutive silver medal finishes in two previous world championship campaigns.

He earned the first silver in the sprint event in Poland in 2009 and settled for another behind Britain’s triple Olympic champion Chris Hoy in the keirin in Copenhagen last year.

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