PETALING JAYA: Track cyclist Azizul Hasni Awang continues to make his rivals take notice of his potential ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.
The diminutive Malaysian finished an impressive fourth in a field of 61 cyclists in the 200m sprint event of the GP von Deutschland, which was held in Cottbus, Germany, over the weekend.
The 19-year-old Azizul clocked a flying lap of 10.390 in the qualifying session to make the top 16 of the elimination rounds. His run ended in the ride for the bronze medal against Dennis Dimitrios of Greece.
The reigning world champion in the 200m sprint and keirin, Chris Hoy of Britain, served a warning to his rivals ahead of the Olympics. He beat German Dohrer Sebastian to win the gold.
There was also a big surprise when 2004 Athens Olympic silver medallist and current world record holder Theo Bos of Holland, who is seen as a strong contender for gold in Beijing, was eliminated in the first round.
Most of the riders who have qualified for the Olympics, except for the French riders, took part in the meet.
Azizul has again fared better than his more experienced team-mate, Josiah Ng. And the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president, Datuk Naim Mohamad, is hoping that the youngster will keep up the momentum to peak at the Olympics.
“He has been doing well over the last few months. He is keeping his form on a consistent level since the Track World Championships in Manchester in March,” he said.
“Although he has done well, we will not put too much pressure on him in his first outing in the Olympics. After all, he was only targeted to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. But I’m sure he wants to spring some surprises in Beijing.
“There will be no competition for our cyclists after this (the meet in Cottbus) and our cyclists should have ample time to recover and get ready for Beijing.”
Azizul is the holder of the Asian record of 10.160, which he set en route to an 11th-place finish in the world championships.
In the Asian Championships in Japan in April, he retained the keirin title and added the 200m sprint gold to his collection. For the Beijing Games, Azizul is down to compete in both these two events.
In the meet in Cottbus, the Malaysian team sprint trio of Mohd Edrus Yunus, Josiah and Rizal Tisin also finished fourth with a time of 1:03.649 behind Germany, Poland and Russia.
For the challenge in the Olympics, Azizul will make up the team trio with Josiah and Rizal. Edrus has been named as the reserve rider.
Fatehah Mustapa also competed in the GP championships in Germany and she was placed eighth in the 200m sprint.
The Malaysian track team left for Valencia yesterday with Australian coach John Beasley and they will train there until they leave for Beijing on Aug 6.
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