We congratulate national cyclist Azizul Hasni Awang for his bronze medal at Rio Olympics and take a look back at his interview with August Man Malaysia from 2011:
When national cyclist Azizul Hasni Awang turned up for our shoot, we were slightly taken aback by his build. A stereotype on our part, perhaps but it is just that the other sportsmen we have featured have tended to a lot bulkier. Then a quote from Josiah Ng, the other national cyclist featured in August Man came to mind. Cycling, he said, is the only sport you can take up regardless of your size or age.
And especially where Azizul is concerned, size appears to be of little consequence, concealing the fact that he is quite a powerhouse.
Take a look at his track record, – winner of the gold medals in the keirin and 200m sprint events at the Asian Track Championships in 2008, the highest placed Asian cyclist at the Olympics, finishing eighth in the keirin. In 2009, he was the overall winner of the Keirin event in the 2008–2009 World Cup after obtaining two gold medals and the first Malaysian to win a medal at the UCI (Union Cycliste International) Track Cycling World Championships, winning a silver medal in the men’s sprint event at the 2009 World Championships.
He is currently a strong contender for the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. I guess they don’t call him “Azizul the pocket rocket” for nothing. Our photographer was particularly impressed by the pint-sized athlete’s ability to withstand a particularly horrific injury he endured earlier this year.
After crashing during the final leg of the World Cup series in Manchester, Azizul got back on his bike and finished the race despite the fact that a 20cm wood splinter had plunged right through his left calf.
“I didn’t know it was there,” he tells us nonchalantly. That has earned the “pocket rocket” another nickname – “the sprinter with a splinter.”
During the shoot, Azizul who resides in Melbourne where he trains and is pursuing his bachelor degree at the University of Deakin, was back in KL to recuperate from his injury. But he returns to the track this month at the World University Games in Shenzen where he is the favourite for the gold.
In this interview with August Man, he tells us what propels him forward.
What about cycling do you enjoy the most?
Cycling is in my blood…I love and enjoy cycling more than any other sport. For me, the challenge in cycling is the best. Other than that, it is the speed .For example, the highest speed you achieve when you put a 100% when you are riding.
Why did you decide to do it professionally?
I found that in cycling I am able to compete with all the best cyclists in the world despite my pocket size. I also wanted to bring Malaysia to the world .
You are physically much smaller than most cyclists.Is that an advantage or disadvantage?
The disadvantage of being a smaller cyclist is that I will produce less power than the others but the advantage is my speed because I can pedal faster than the others. It is easy for me to move all around the track.
What is your training schedule like and what does it entail?
I train six days a week and it covers riding on road and track as well as conditioning in the gym. I basically train early time from around 6.30 am till 10 am and the evening session begins from 2.30pm until 5.00pm.
How do you mentally prepare yourself for competition, particularly to be able to withstand something like the splinter getting wedged in your thigh?
I know what I am aiming for in every competition that I take part in. I put the pressure aside and give it 100% concentration to try and achieve my goal.
How do you feel about being a role model and what advice do you have for young people?
I am glad I can inspire the younger generation and I hope they will follow my footsteps to try and uphold the country’s name at a global level. My advice is that in whatever you do , you should just do it, be patient and don’t look back.
What would you like people to know about the sport of cycling?
To me, cycling is really the most interesting sport in the world. It combines all the elements of skill, speed, strength and fitness. At the same time, cycling is one of the best forms of exercise and recreation.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Kahmun/ Myth Studio
STYLING & COORDINATION: Sarah Saw
GROOMING: Gavin Soh
LOCATION: G Tower Hotel