A NATIONAL record. A podium finish.
These will be the driving factors for national cyclist Azizulhasni Awang and Co. as they aim for a cracking start in the track competition starting today at the Jakarta International Velodrome in Rawamangun.
Azizul will be the starter for the men’s team sprint with Muhd Shah Firdaus Sahrom as the second rider and Mohd Fadhil Zonis as the anchor.
It is the strongest combination assembled by national coach John Beasley for a team sprint event in a bid to challenge the Japanese, Chinese and Iranian combinations for a place on the podium.
Azizul is hoping to smash his personal best of 9.774 seconds in the sprint event.
“I’ve not taken part in a team sprint for sometime but I’m looking forward to it. All three of us have dipped under 10 seconds in the China Track Cup I in Taiyuan, China, last month,” said Azizul.
“Now we are coming together for the first time and I hope we can go fast enough to break the team sprint national record (44.725 seconds) set by myself, Josiah Ng and Rizal Tisin at the Beijing Olympics back in 2008.
“If we can do it, I think we have a chance to finish on the podium,” said Azizul, who set his individual sprint national record during the Asian Cycling Championships in Nilai in February this year.
Beasley said the medal hopes for Malaysia lies with the men.
“Azizul and Shah have gold medal chances in the keirin and sprint,” said Beasley. “Shah is coming along really well and the sprint suits him as he is bigger and physically stronger than Azizul.
“When Shah is at his best, he is as good as Azizul. For the team sprint, Azizul will be equal to the best in the first lap but it will depend on whether the boys will have the confidence to follow him.”
At the last Asiad in Incheon, South Korea, four years ago, Fatehah Mustapa claimed a silver medal in the women’s keirin but she was not selected for Jakarta this time.
Azizul finished empty-handed after he failed to defend his keirin title in Incheon.
He reached the keirin final but was relegated to sixth spot for a technical infringement as teammate Josiah Ng took bronze.