KUALA LUMPUR: A timely recognition has boosted the morale of Azizulhasni Awang (pic) ahead of the World Track Cycling Championships in Apeldoorn, Holland.
The world champion bagged the 2017 Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM)-100Plus Best Athlete Award for a second time yesterday.
He said the award would be the best motivation for him to bring more glory to the country.
The top keirin cyclist was picked as the recipient for the award over several top athletes – all world champions in their respective disciplines last year.
Also nominated were world diving champion Cheong Jun Hoong, world champion wushu exponents Wong Weng Son (men’s jianshu) and Phoon Eyin, Loh Ying Ting and Tan Cheong Min (women’s duilian); and the women’s bowling team of Shalin Zulkifli, Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman, Sin Li Jane, Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi and Natasha Roslan.
Azizul, who received RM10,000 and a trophy, did not attend last night’s presentation ceremony graced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The 30-year-old, who was slated to defend his keirin title at the ongoing world meet, said it was his second award after 2009.
That year saw Azizul make the world sit up and take notice by taking Frenchman Gregory Bauge to the distance in the men’s sprint before settling for a silver medal in the world championships in Pruszkow, Poland.
“This award means a lot to me as it comes from the support of my media friends. I’m very honoured to get this recognition for my struggles so far,” said Azizul.
“It has not been easy balancing my career as a professional athlete, a student and a father to two kids, but I am grateful that I’ve managed to handle these challenges so far.
“I want to thank my wife (Athiah Ilyana Abd Samat) and two daughters, who are the backbone of my success.
“I also want to thank my coach John (Beasley) and wife Vicky for making me what I am today.”
Besides the world championships, Azizul also said he was motivated to bring back the gold from the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast next month and the Asian Games in Indonesia in August.
“These are the main assignments for me this year,” said Azizul, who also bagged two gold medals at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games last year.
Ziyad Zolkefli earned the Best Paralympic Award for his golden triumph at the World Para Athletics Championships in London last year.
Ziyad bettered his own world record in the men’s F20 shot putt event in London and gave a stunning bronze-medal show in his maiden appearance at the KL SEA Games. He also won gold at the Asean Para Games for the fourth consecutive time.