PETALING JAYA: Call him Datuk Azizulhasni Awang after this.
National track cyclist Azizul has described his conferment of the Darjah Kebesaran Darjah Dato Paduka Mahkota Terengganu (DPMT), which carries the title Datuk, as the biggest honour he has received in 15 years of service as a national athlete.
Azizul was the only athlete from the 10 recipients of the state awards announced by the Sultan of Terengganu Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin effective from yesterday.
The investiture ceremony will be held on a date to be determined later.
The 2017 world champion Azizul joins Lee Chong Wei and Nicol David as Malaysian athletes given Datukship while still active in sport.
It is a timely boost for the 33-year-old Dungun-born Azizul with just one week to go before he leaves for the Tokyo Olympics along with his teammate Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom.
Azizul said he was caught off guard by the announcement.
“I am so surprised. It’s the biggest recognition for me after 15 years of giving my all in this sport,” said the athlete who’s also known as Jojo.
“I am grateful to Allah and I want to thank Sultan of Terengganu Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the state government and Terengganu State Sports Council as well as everyone who has supported me.
“I also appreciate the media for their role in highlighting my pursuit to make a name for Malaysia in cycling all this while.
“I feel so happy and lucky to be the first Terengganu athlete to take part in four Olympics and get this honour.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect this. I did not believe this at first when my friends told me as I thought they were joking.
“It’s not a joke after all. This recognition will make me more determined now to try and bring back what everyone is hoping to see - Malaysia’s first Olympics gold medal.
“I hope every Malaysian sports fans will pray that
“I will succeed and that we will have a problem-free Olympics given the Covid-19 situation we are in,” added the 2016 Rio Games bronze medallist.