PETALING JAYA: Track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang expressed mixed feelings after his heroic effort in taking silver in the men's keirin event at the Tokyo Olympics.
Azizul was happy with his silver ride as it was the best achievement for Malaysia in cycling history at the Olympics after he raced to a bronze in the same event in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.
But he could not hide his disappointment too as he had hoped to end the elusive chase for the gold medal after storming into the top six final at Izu Velodrome on Sunday.
"I have mixed feelings. It's not that I am not happy with the silver but I came here to win the gold," said the 33-year-old Azizul.
"I was carrying the heavy expectation as the last contender, the last Malaysian hope for a medal but I think I went through the motions calmly and I slept well last night after the quarter-finals.
"I woke up this morning and was ready to rumble."
"I just want to tell Malaysians back home that Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom and I tried our best today.
"I'm sorry that I can't get the gold everyone was hoping for," said Azizul, who advanced to the top six final in style by winning his semi-final heat.
Britain's Jason Kenny flew out early and led all the way to win the men's keirin final, making it his third Olympics gold in a row.
Azizul led the charge from the rest of the field in second while reigning world champion Harrie Lavreysen of Holland ended in third.
In fourth place was Surinam's Jair Tjon En Fa with Australia's Matthew Glaetzer and Maximilian Levy (Germany) taking fifth and sixth respectively.
"It was a bit risky in the final if I had gone out early. My placing draw was not good and others would have had a chance to catch up with me," he said.
Azizul had finished second in his quarter-finals heat behind Japan's Yuta Wakimoto to go through to the semis but Shah Firdaus, who had crashed heavily in the first round on Saturday, was eliminated.
The Olympics rookie rider did not have the legs to carry and was placed last in his quarter-finals heat.
Azizul's silver was Malaysia second medal in the Games tally after men's doubles shuttlers Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik claimed bronze last week.
Final (1-6th): 1. Jason Kenny (Gbr), 2. Azizulhasni Awang (Mas), 3. Harrie Lavreysen (Ned), 4. Tjon En Fa Jair (Sur), 5. Matthew Glaetzer (Aus), 6. Maximilian Levy (Ger).
Final (7-12th): 1. Yuta Wakimoto (Jpn), 2. Jack Carlin (Gbr), 3. Kwesi Browne (Tto), 4. Rayan Helal (Fra), 5. Kevin Santiago Quintero Chavarro (Col).
Semi-finals (top three qualify)
Heat 1: 1. Jason Kenny (Gbr), 2. Matthew Glaetzer (Aus), 3. Tjon En Fa Jair (Sur), 4. Jack Carlin (Gbr), 5. Kwesi Browne (Tto), 6. Kevin Santiago Quintero Chavarro (Col).
Heat 2: 1. Azizulhasni Awang (Mas), 2. Maximilian Levy (Ger), 3. Harrie Lavreysen (Ned), 4. Nicholas Paul (Tto), 5. Rayan Helal (Fra), 6. Yuta Wakimoto (Jpn).
Quarter-finals (top four qualify)
Heat 1: 1. Kevin Santiago Quintero Chavarro (Col), 2. Jason Kenny (Gbr), 3. Rayan Helal (Fra), 4.
Harrie Lavreysen (Ned), 5. Matthew Richardson (Aus), 6. Yudai Nitta (Jpn).
Heat 2: 1. Nicholas Paul (Tto), 2. Jack Carlin (Gbr), 3. Tjon En Fa Jair (Sur), 4. Maximilian Levy (Ger), 5. Callum Saunders (Nzl), 6. Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom (Mas).
Heat 3: 1. Yuta Wakimoto (Jpn), 2. Azizulhasni Awang (Mas), 3. Kwesi Browne (Tto), 4. Matthew Glaetzer (Aus), 5. Stefan Boetticher (Ger), 6. Denis Dmitriev (ROC).