PETALING JAYA: Determined and obsessed about winning.
That’s former Olympics cyclist Josiah Ng’s honest assessment about Azizulhasni Awang (pic).
Josiah shared a little known story about how Azizul still kept until today the very first Australian dollar he earned when he first shifted to Melbourne back in 2007.
“He was only 18 at that time and broke. We had community races every week offering little prizes.
“He used to race every Tuesday to win A$20 (RM60).
“When I meet John (coach Beasley) we will talk about it and have a good laugh over it.
“Azizul is so careful with his money and I think this is what makes him different from others who will be chasing fast cars and all the fancy things once they achieve something,” Josiah pointed out.
That winning mentality in Azizul is exactly why Josiah believes his former training mate has what it takes to deliver another Olympic medal for Malaysia in Paris next year.
Josiah, who trained together with Azizul in Melbourne until his retirement from competitive cycling in 2015, is in awe of Azizul’s sheer determination to beat the odds to qualify for another Olympics despite having gone for open heart surgery last year.
“It’s so ironic. He was the one who looked up to me 20 years ago but now I look up to him.
“I have total respect for what he has done to get back on his feet again after what he went through.
“If I was him and at this age in my career, I would not want to take the risk, especially when you got three kids already.
“But after what I saw at the last race, he still got it (what it takes to fight for Olympic podium).
“He would not be doing it if he didn’t believe he can do it. He is not the type to stick around for the money although he surely loves the money, which everybody does anyway.”
Josiah is just glad he’s no longer racing.
“I’m just glad I’m not racing anymore as I don’t want to be a rival to him in any capacity,” said Josiah, who added everybody should feel proud to still be able to count on Azizul to fly the flag for Malaysia.
“I’m just so happy that we have at least one champion athlete still going at it.
“It’s easy for an athlete to win one time, it’s not too hard but to repeat this for 10 to 15 years, that’s not easy and they deserve to be called legends.”
Azizul, the two-time Olympic medal winner, is preparing for the opening leg of the UCI Track Nations Cup series in Jakarta next month, which plays a crucial role in qualifying for Paris.
Azizul showed positive improvements since returning to racing. The 34-year-old won the individual sprint and finished second at the Austral Wheelrace in Melbourne last month.
He also made one keirin final and one individual sprint semi-final during the UCI Track Champions League (TCL) – his first competition since coming back in November.