NOTHING can be done about his height but if Azizulhasni Awang is at his wits' end after finishing sixth in the London Olympics keirin final, help is on the way.
Coach John Beasley, who charted the Malaysian's progress from a semi-final appearance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the final on Tuesday, is already laying plans to make sure Azizul steps up even higher come the 2016 Games.
Top of the agenda will be to make Azizul stronger and those who watched Tuesday's final at the London 2012 Velodrome will agree that the "Pocket Rocketman" lost the race in the last 20 metres or so as the rest of the Caucasian field, led by the magnificent Chris Hoy of Britain, turned on the power to leave the Malaysian gasping.
"Azizul did his best and we can't fault him in any way. He rode the final the way he had to after being drawn in the sixth position. Had he been given an inner position, it would have been better and his chances of a medal brighter but he came very close," said Australian Beasley.
"Given his stature, it was always going to be very difficult to chase from the back and that is why Azizul went to the front immediately. However, the experienced field knew what they had to do and in the final sprint, Azizul found himself bunched in and had to attack from the back."
The final ended with Azizul sixth in the field of six, an improvement to the 10th placed finish in Beijing but there was a feeling that a medal, if not gold, had been allowed to slip away.
Hoy defended the title won in Beijing, silver went to Germany's Maximilian Levy while New Zealand's Simon van Velthooven and the Netherlands' Teun Mulder shared the bronze in a tight finish. Beasley, however, is already looking to the future.
"We all know Azizul is a small-sized athlete and there is nothing we can do about his height. We can, however, build his strength and that is what we will be focusing on from now. He is 67kg and I want him to increase his weight to 69kg.
"Keirin is a sport which is always evolving and Azizul must be prepared to work very hard if he is to continue challenging at the top. I am confident though that he will accept any effort to further improve him."
Azizul, 24, said he had been extremely disappointed after the race.
"The coach, however, told me that I had no reason to feel sad as I had raced the way I was supposed to. He also said we have to start working even harder now and I am ready and willing.
"My immediate targets are the 2014 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games before turning my sights to the 2016 Olympics (in Rio de Janeiro)."
Azizul returned to Malaysia yesterday and will spend the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays with his family for the first time in three years but when he returns to his Melbourne training base, a new programme which requires plenty of strength training will be awaiting him -- aimed at making sure his third appearance in the Olympics ends with a medal.