NILAI: Azizulhasni Awang secured an emotional victory in what was likely his last race in the Asian Track Cycling Championships (ACC) after clinching a 1-3 finish for Malaysia with teammate Shah Firdaus Sahrom in the men's keirin today.
The keirin final at the National Velodrome featured seven riders, instead of the usual six, as Shah and Kazakhstan's Sergey Ponymarov could not be separated in the photo finish during their semi-final (both joint third).
Azizulhasni, who was drawn as the last rider behind the derny in the final, made sure he did not risk getting caught out by moving right to the front just before the derny left the track.
The Dungun-born rider then fended off Japan's Shinji Nakano (silver) to hit the line first as Shah edged past Kohei Terasaki (Japan) for bronze, much to the delight of a partisan crowd.
Azizulhasni, who had won the individual sprint gold earlier this week, shared tears of joy with national head coach John Beasley after coming off the track.
The last time the 35-year-old had won two gold in ACC was during the 2008 edition.
"When I saw I was drawn last (behind derny) I knew it would be slightly tricky because we do not normally have seven riders in the final," said Azizulhasni, who has now amassed 12 ACC gold throughout his career.
"I knew I had to move to the front quickly. From there I just tried to be patient and waited for the right opportunity to go full gas.
"I hit the front at the last corner and from there I just went all out to make sure my tyre was first across the line.
"I am grateful to be able to win (ACC) in front of my home crowd one last time. To win two gold in my last ACC, with a best-ever performance, I mean what more could I ask for?"
Azizulhasni indicated that it is unlikely he will compete at the next ACC which is scheduled to be held in New Delhi in February. He had previously stated that he will retire after the Paris Olympics next year.
Shah had suffered a heavy crash during in his semi-final heat earlier today which saw him breaking his bike's seat post.
Despite suffering cuts and bruises, the Johorean remounted his broken bike and finished the race joint-third to make the cut for the final.
Azizulhasni paid homage to his younger teammate whom he has dubbed "The Terminator" due to his never-say-die attitude.
"The crash happened right in front of me. I saw him (Shah) go flying and hit his head on the fence.
"He had cuts on his body and splinters entered his skin but the determination he showed to get back on the bike and finish the race was just next level.
"If he gave up, he wouldn't have made the final and would not have won the bronze. He set a good example for younger athletes in Malaysia.
"I think we should call him Shah 'The Terminator'."
Earlier today, youngster Izzah Izzati Asri did well to place fourth in the women's keirin final. Teammate Anis Amira Rosidi crashed during the 7-12th place decider but remounted to finish 11th overall.
Japan scored a 1-2-3 finish in the event through Mina Sato, Fuko Umekawa and Riyu Ohta.
In the para cycling events, Nur Suraya Mohd Zamri-Farina Shawati Mohd Adnan emerged victorious in the women's sprint event after downing teammates Nur Azlia Syafinaz Mohd Zais-Nurul Suhada Zainal 2-0 in the final.
Ahmad Ahlami-Mohd Arfy Qhairant Amran claimed bronze in the men's sprint event after beating teammates Mohd Khairul Hazwan Wahab-Mohd Khairul Adha Rasol in the third-place playoff.
The men's 1km and women's 500m time trials will be the focus on the final day of the competition tomorrow.