Cyclist Azizul looks beyond Tokyo for more glory

Track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang is going for his fourth Olympic appearance in Tokyo next month.

PETALING JAYA: The Tokyo Games has not event started but track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang is already thinking about a fifth Olympic Games appearance in Paris.

The 33-year-old declared yesterday that Tokyo will not be his last Olympics.

Azizul wants to pedal on even if he delivers a historic gold medal from Tokyo.

Although age will not be on his side at 36 by 2024, Azizul does not see any reason to call it a day when he is still yet to go into a decline.

“The typical mentality before is that an athlete should retire when they get older, ” said Azizul.

“But the reasons why athlete lose their competitive edge is also because they do not take care of their diet or don’t go through proper recovery or just lack the discipline.

“As a professional athlete, I take great care of what I eat most of the time. The mindset to achieve the goal you set is also very important, ” said Azizul, who won a historic Olympics bronze in keirin in Rio de Janeiro five years ago when he was 28. “Before I went to the Rio Olympics, some people were saying that I was old and had no chance to be on the podium.

“But I came back with the first Olympics cycling medal for Malaysia and I became the world champion in Hong Kong the following year.

“Mentally and physically, I am sharper than before compared to when I was younger.

“My coach John (Beasley) always tells us to be honest with ourselves.

“The day when we lose the fire in the gut is when we know it’s time to retire.

“Now I’m going faster than before and I have the data to back up what I say, so there should be no reason to retire, ” said Azizul, who clocked a superb 9.548 seconds for a new Asian record in the 200m sprint during the World Track Cycling Championships in Berlin early last year.

Azizul also marked a first in his world championships campaign when he stood on the podium twice in one edition after picking up one bronze each in sprint and keirin.

The Terengganu-born cyclist will be competing in keirin and sprint in his fourth Olympic campaign together with debutant Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom.

Azizul, who is now preparing in Malaysia before leaving for Tokyo end of this month, said he would have accepted it if the Olympics had to be called off because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“To be honest, I am excited to go for Tokyo but I don’t mind if the Games is cancelled, ” he said.

“Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely focused and still working very hard in training but we have to see the reality of what’s happening in Tokyo and with the Japanese citizens right now, which is really sad. But if I have to wait another three or four years, I will definitely wait for the next Olympics.”

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