PETALING JAYA: Top Malaysian cyclist Azizulhasni Awang is not one to go for a lesser challenge. He lives by the Malaysian track cycling team’s motto: “To inspire the nation to believe.”
Which is why he is glad the Olympic Games have been postponed. He would much rather wait and take on the best in the world than be a winner in a weakened field.
If the Games had gone ahead as scheduled, cyclists from countries like Australia, Britain and Canada would have stayed away and Azizul is not keen on that.
“Holding the Olympics in July is not good for the sport. I want to take on the best and hopefully bring back the first Olympic gold for my country. It would be a much more meaningful win for any cyclist if they win against the best in the world.
“I am taking this (the postponement) positively as I have more time to prepare. Maybe, it’s good as I can see the gap better between myself and the top sprinters from Europe, especially.
The Olympics organisers had been reluctant to move the schedule but had to finally relent after the major countries said they would not send their athletes in July.
“It’s the right move by IOC (International Olympic Committee) as it would not be good for track cycling if the Olympic field was weaker without the Australians or British riders.
The 2017 world champion keirin rider said he had been ready for the Games in July.
“I felt I was running in good form after winning two bronze medals at the Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin earlier this month and where I was to be when I arrive in Tokyo by July.”
However, the Covid-19 outbreak meant he had to accept the wait.
“The most important is not to compromise on the safety and health of the athletes. What is the Olympics without athletes?
“If the Games was on this year, I would also be worried about my safety over there and I would not be able to even go back to Melbourne to see my family (Australia has closed its borders for six momths).
“At least, they came out early to make a decision and it allows all the athletes and teams who have qualified to make adjustments to their training plans.
“My training plans will change, of course. The plan was for me to peak in July but the intensity will be much lesser now.
“We finished our last training session at our regular indoor velodrome yesterday. We are also not able to train in the gym now because Australia has introduced containment measures.
“I am just trying to keep fit by doing workout routines at home. I have dumb bells and a roller where I can still cycle at home. No matter what, I still need to continue with some form of physical activity.”
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