PETALING JAYA: Azizulhasni Awang can finally sleep tight after achieving his mission of a 10th gold medal at the Asian Track Cycling Championships in Jincheon, South Korea.
With his latest win in the sprint, he becomes the most successful male cyclist in the history of the Asian Championships.
On Monday, he denied Japan’s Yuta Wakimoto the chance to add the sprint gold to the keirin he had won earlier.
Azizul’s other wins in the sprint was in Nara (Japan, 2008), Tenggarong (Indonesia, 2009), Astana (Kazakhstan, 2014), New Delhi (2017) and Jakarta (Indonesia, 2019). He also won the team sprint in Palembang (Indonesia, 2011).
The Pocket Rocketman’s three other golds in the Asian meet are from the keirin events in Bangkok (Thailand, 2007), Nara (Japan, 2008) and Korat (Thailand, 2015).
Azizul was still on cloud nine with his latest feat.
“It almost never happened and I cannot believe it, ” said Azizul.
“I was involved in an incident where I almost lost my finger (which got caught in a bicycle chain and he had to undergo surgery).
“I could not train for a week and when I came back for training, I couldn’t grip the handle hard.
“Despite the adversity, I managed to get hold of my 10th gold and I have now achieved more than the other Asian riders.
“To beat Wakimoto, who is currently at the peak of his career, is something else.
“We spoke before the podium ceremony for the keirin and he mentioned that he’s been training with some of the best keirin riders in the world like Theo Boss (Holland) and Denis Dmitriev (Russia).
“But it didn’t break my resolve to find other means to bring home a gold medal and the white jersey (champion), ” said the 31-year-old, who bagged silver in the keirin on Friday.
Azizul described the three duels with Wakimoto before coming out tops as very intense.
“I was drained because of the lactic acid effect from the first heat and I vomited.
“It took a while for my breathing to become normal. I told myself I’m not going to let him dash my dream of a 10th gold.
“In the second heat, Wakimoto went for it from the start. I tailed him and waited until the last corner to beat him.
“I won in 9.824 and it’s crazy. Only a fellow cyclist will know how crazy it is.
“My adrenaline got me going in the decider and Wakimoto was already a spent force, ” added Azizul, who returns home today.
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