Cyclist Azizulhasni thankful to be back on the podium

KUALA LUMPUR: Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang fell just short in his ambitious bid to land a second medal at the UCI Track Nation Cup after his run in the sprint competition ended in the quarter-finals today.

Azizulhasni, 35, who won silver in the keirin on Saturday to mark his return to action following heart surgery, was narrowly beaten 2-1 by Israel's Mikhail Yakovlev, the 2021 European Championships bronze medallist.

Azizulhasni had qualified seventh fastest for the elimination stage by clocking 9.633 seconds.

Azizul defeated Japan's Kohei Terasaki in the opening round before advancing further with a fine win over 2019 World Championships bronze medallist Rudyk Mateusz.

It was a commendable display, nonetheless, for Azizulhasni, considering that the sprint event is not his forte.

The keirin podium on Saturday was his 10th in the prestigious meet since 2008.

The Pocket Rocketman had won gold on six occasions.

"It was unbelievable. It was about 12 months ago that I underwent heart surgery, and now I am back standing on the podium of the world stage," he posted on Facebook.

Elaborating further on his silver-medal-winning feat on Saturday, he said: "It was a day filled with challenges. I endured six gruelling races on the way to stepping on the podium.

"I want to thank Allah for giving me the strength to fight for my beloved nation.

"I thought my career would be over after the operation.

"But through perseverance, self-belief, hard work, discipline, stubbornness and unconditional support, I have made it to the top again.

"I hope this is just the start of better things to come. The ultimate goal is none other than the 2024 Paris Olympics."

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