TOKYO,. National track cycling ace Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang views his elimination from the sprint event as a blessing in disguise and has vowed to fight till the end when he competes in his pet event – keirin – at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Saturday (Aug 7).
Azizulhasni, or The Pocket Rocketman as he is nicknamed, believes that he stands a better chance to shine in keirin now that he has been eliminated from the quarter-finals of the sprint event today.
Azizulhasni, who won the keirin bronze at the 2016 Rio edition, said he would now have more time to rest, thus giving him the edge when he returns to action at the Izu Velodrome Saturday.
He explained that based on the original plan with his coach, John Beasley, it was decided that he would not focus on qualifying for the sprint quarter-finals if he could not overcome Dutch rider Jeffrey Hoogland in the 1/8 Finals.
“If I had qualified for the quarter-finals, I would meet the same rider. If I lose, I would have to compete for the 5th-8th placings, so there will be lots of races.
“That means I will be tired and not get enough rest. So, it’s important that we plan our strategy properly to fully focus on the keirin,” he said in a video clip uploaded onto the Azizul Awang Youtube channel, entitled ‘Pecutan Hari Kedua | Perjalanan Azizul Awang Mengejar Kilauan Emas’ today.
Hoogland, who smashed the Olympic record with a time of 9.215s in the qualifying round Wednesday (Aug 4), clocked 9.831s – just 0.040s faster than Azizulhasni – in Heat One of the 1/8 Finals.
The defeat saw Azizulhasni having to compete in Heat One of the 1/8 Finals repechage, where reigning champion Jason Kenny of Great Britain came out tops in 10.066s, with Azizulhasni trailing in second place and Japan’s Yuta Wakimoto third.
Commenting on his performance today, the 33-year-old Azizulhasni said he was happy with the way he rode although he lost at the 1/8 stage.
According to him, the physically bigger-built riders had an advantage in terms of sheer power to dominate the sprint event compared to pint-sized riders like himself.
The world champion from Dungun, Terengganu, however, apologised to Malaysians for his failure to go further in the sprint event.
Muhammad Shah Firdaus too failed to advance to the quarter-finals after losing in Heat Two of the 1/8 Finals repechage.
The 25-year-old could only finish third behind France’s Sebastien Vigier, who won in 10.169s, and New Zealand’s Sam Webster.
Earlier, Muhammad Shah Firdaus failed to avenge his loss to Harrie Lavreysen in the 1/32 Finals Wednesday (Aug 4) when he was beaten by the Dutchman, who clocked 9.635s, for the second time in Heat Two of the 1/8 Finals.
Still, it’s not all over for the national riders yet as they have one last chance to come good in the keirin on Saturday (Aug 7).