THERE is arguably no other Malaysian athlete who can consistently overcome adversity and come out on top than track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang.
Azizulhasni, known as the Pocket Rocketman, retained his men’s individual sprint gold in style on the final day of the Asian Track Cycling Championships at Jincheon National Training Centre Velodrome in South Korea yesterday.
It was his 10th Asian title since 2007.
The win was fulfilling as there were concerns as to whether Azizulhasni would be at his best following a minor finger surgery before the Asian meet.
And on the first day of competition, Azizulhasni avoided any serious injury when he crashed in the opening round of the keirin event.
The Terengganu-born rider started the day by winning both his races (best-of-three format) against Japan’s Tomohiro Fukaya in the last four to advance to the final against Japan’s Yuta Wakimoto.
The latter was stretched to a deciding race in his semi-final against Shah Firdaus Sahrom.
Wakimoto, who edged Azizulhasni to the gold in keirin on Friday, looked set for another victory after winning the opening race in the final.
Azizulhasni, 31, however, showed his trademark grit and guile as he won the next two races to secure a well-deserved victory.
Shah Firdaus lost to Fukaya in the bronze medal decider.
Azizulhasni said: “I am grateful to win my 10th Asian title.
“Tactically, Wakimoto was using the higher part of the velodrome as he was racing with a bigger gear.
“This (big gear) allowed him to sprint from some distance out with high pace.
“I am very happy that my tactics for the deciding race worked and it allowed me to dominate the race.
“I have earned valuable ranking points from my silver (keirin) and gold (sprint).”
For the record, Azizulhasni has now won seven sprint titles (six individual and one team), and three gold in keirin in the Asian meet.
Meanwhile, the women’s keirin saw Fatehah Mustapa and Anis Amira Rosidi settling for eighth and 11th overall.