NILAI: Track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang and coach John Beasley are hoping for riders Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom and Mohd Fadhil Zonis to make it count at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
Azizul has withdrawn from his last Asian Games outing due to injuries he had sustained during a high-speed training crash in Nilai last week but he has faith on his teammates to shine in the regional Games starting tomorrow.
The 35-year-old’s spot in the keirin will be taken by Fadhil who will compete alongside Shah Firdaus.
Ridwan will take up Azizul’s spot in the sprint alongside Shah Firdaus.
Fadhil, Ridhwan and Umar Hasbullah will also be competing in the team sprint event, in which they are targeting to be on the podium.
“It’s time for Shah to shine. He is very talented and has incredible fighting spirit as we all saw at the Asian Championships (Nilai, June),” said Azizul during a press conference in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
“Shah is good but it’s just the mental strength (which is lacking). It is time for him to learn and adapt to high pressure situations.
“This is an opportunity to show how good Shah and Fadhil are. They have the talent and are very capable of stepping up.
“Hopefully they can be on the same page as Japan on the day.”
Beasley remained positive too.
“Fadhil is also very talented and is the strongest (among Malaysian riders) in the gym. The only thing is that he has self-doubt and his self-belief is not at the highest level yet.”
On whether the team are anxious over a repeat of the tyre puncture incident that caused Azizul to crash at high speed, Beasley said: “This is the first time this has happened. It’s just one of those unfortunate things.
“It could have been worse for Azizul but thankfully, he did not suffer any fracture.
“We were hoping for him to recover but he was still in pain while doing light training.
“Azizul wants to go there to win the gold and there’s no point in going if he’s not in the shape to do that. We sat down to make a very hard decision and after considering the variables, we decided that it was best for him to skip the Asiad to focus on the Paris Olympics next year.”