Azizul eyes return to pre-op form before final Asiad campaign

PETALING JAYA: National track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang is hoping to return to his pre-Tokyo Olympic form just before the Hangzhou Asian Games next September.

After taking six months off following corrective heart surgery procedure in April, Azizul has already restarted his training programme.

The 34-year-old said Hangzhou will definitely be the last Asian Games outing and he is hoping to mark his fourth campaign with a golden performance.

“I’ve discussed the plan with coach John Beasley to get me to reach my peak performance at the Asiad next year.

“I am currently nowhere the form where I was right before going to the Tokyo Olympics as I lost a lot of muscle mass recovering from the operation.

“But the time frame is for me to recover back my speed and power by September.

“It is almost a year away but I lost a lot of ranking points in the last few months and I need to catch up.

“I have always done well in the previous Asian Games outings and I hope to contribute again,” said Azizul, who made a golden debut in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou by leading Josiah Ng to a gold and silver sweep in the men’s keirin.

The Terengganu-born cyclist missed out on a medal in Incheon four years later when he was relegated in the final as Josiah claimed bronze.

However, Azizul bounced back in style to win a full set of medals (gold in sprint, silver in team sprint and bronze in keirin) in the 2018 edition in Jakarta.

Azizul has plans to saddle up for one or two competitions next month.

“It is just to regain the momentum and feeling of competitive racing again.

“I’ll see how it goes and maybe next year the plan is to compete in the Track Nations Cup legs to get some world ranking points.

“I need to take it slow in getting back to my previous performance level because I do not want it to have an impact on my health condition later.

“After all, the main goal for me is still the Paris Olympics in 2024.”

Azizul bagged silver in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but almost lost his life after he was diagnosed with a rare natural heart defect and forced to undergo surgery in Melbourne in April.

Azizul has slipped to 274th in the UCI track world rankings for keirin where he was once ranked No. 1.

He is ranked 451st in the sprint.

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