Former cyclist Josiah says this year’s Olympics is Azizul’s best chance to win gold

Malaysia’s Azizulhasni Awang react during compete with Japan’s Fukaya Tomohiro in the men’s sprint finals during Asian Games 2018 at Jakarta International Velodrome, Jakarta. FAIHAN GHANI/The Star.

PETALING JAYA: It’s the last chance saloon for track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang to end Malaysia’s Olympics misery.

The Pocket Rocketman’s former teammate, Josiah Ng, reckons the Games in Tokyo will be the best chance for Azizul to end the country’s long wait for a gold medal.

The 2017 keirin world champion, who will be 33 on Wednesday, is set to become the first Malaysian cyclist to ride in four Olympics come August.

Azizul’s teammate, Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom, who is eight years younger, will be making his debut also in the individual sprint and keirin.

“This is his best chance to get the gold. At 33, I think this is the right time for Azizul, ” said Josiah.

“Generally, one’s performance will go down after that and he will be 36 by the time the Paris Olympics takes place.

“It’s going to be harder for him. He may still be up there after this but not as strong as before because you take in the family and age factor.

“I may be wrong but mentally, Azizul is so strong and his attention to details is what gives him a chance when the odds are in his way.”

Josiah, however, said it is still going to be a very tough on Azizul because of the circumstances leading to the postponement of the Games.

“Nobody knows the level of their opponents and easily the 20 cyclists in Tokyo all have a good chance of winning.

“It’s going to be very exciting. I put my money on Azizul to be on the podium at the last Olympics and he did not disappoint, so I’m looking to another great show again.

“There’s also a big difference now as he’s using the best bicycle one can get.

“It’s a very expensive investment but this is what you need for your best athlete to have a chance of bagging the gold.

“Other countries will not hesitate to do the same thing too, ” said the former Malaysian Sportsman of the Year, referring to Azizul’s RM300,000 WXR Vorteq bike.

Josiah was the first Malaysian cyclist to make the keirin final at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and came in sixth.

And 12 years later, Azizul matched Josiah’s feat by reaching the final in London and also finished sixth.

Then came the bronze-medal ride in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

And if Azizul gets it right in Tokyo, he will forever be immortalised in Malaysian sporting history.

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