WITH the Tokyo Olympics just seven months away, it almost became a nightmare scenario for Azizulhasni Awang when he suffered a heavy crash at the Brisbane leg of the World Cup series yesterday.
The incident, which happened in the first round of the men’s keirin, also took out Poland’s Krzyastof Maksel and Russia’s Shane Perkins.
Japan's Tomoyuki Kawabata was faulted for the incident.
Azizulhasni subsequently received treatment at the Princess Alexandra Hospital where he also underwent an MRI scan and x-ray to determine the extent of the damage.
Much to the relief of national head coach John Beasley, Azizulhasni, popularly known as the Pocket Rocketman, escaped serious injuries and is not expected to be out for long.
The crash could have jeopardised Azizulhasni’s hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.
The 31-year-old is seen as Malaysia’s main hope of winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
In the 2016 Rio edition, Azizuhasni won a bronze in the event.
“Just back from the hospital with great news... nothing (was) broken though very heavy, deep bruising and a lot of missing skin. He will be fine in a week,” said Beasley on Facebook.
Azizulhasni singled out Kawabata for his part in the incident.
“When the bell sounded, I accelerated to the front and tried to overtake the Polish rider (Maksel). In the process of doing so, the Japanese rider came from behind, cut me off and forced me in,” said Azizulhasni.
“This caused me to make contact with the Polish rider and crash, along with a few other riders.
“It was as if his (Kawabata) move came with bad intentions, but as a professional, I will try to look at it in a positive light.
“Everyone wants to win and because of that sometimes things like this happen.
“But this is the beauty of sports, sometimes you win and sometimes your face ends up in the dirt.
“I was told that the Japanese rider has been disqualified, unfortunately, that does not make the pain and cuts on my body go away.”
Azizulhasni added that visions of his 2011 incident in Manchester, where a giant splinter pierced his leg, had flashed through his mind during the accident.
“I felt my skin dragging over the wood surface (during the crash). It felt hot and it stung. I could also hear the other riders screaming.
“I prayed to God that no wood entered my body like in 2011.
“When I came to a stop, I shouted in pain and could not breathe after the impact of falling and being struck from behind by the other riders at a speed of at least 70km/h,” said the former world champion, who won the keirin event at the recent New Zealand leg of the World Cup.