By Tham Choy Lin
BEIJING, Aug 18 (Bernama) -- Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang ended his Olympics debut with a rousing sprint against world champion Chris Hoy in the individual quarterfinals.
Although he lost, he was given a pat on the back by several other teams for giving the much-experienced Briton a tough fight.
"I'm proud and encouraged because many of the other teams praised me. In the first race, I tried to follow him closely until half of the final lap and tried to overtake him and it was close," said the pint-size rider who tailed across by less than a wheel.
In the second bout, the Malaysian, who thrilled the crowd Sunday with a wheelie after making the quarterfinals, battled hard, pushing Hoy to a fighting finish, with the Briton clocking 10.302s.
Azizulhasni said that overall he was satisfied with the unexpected Olympics outing because he was targeting the 2012 London Olympics.
"I had not expected to all of a sudden qualify for Beijing. But this is a good preparation for London," he said.
The 20-year-old who made headlines by emerging as the Asian sprint and keirin champion this year said he had learnt a valuable lesson from his tactical blunder in the keirin.
"I don't know how it happened. I wanted to stay in front but somehow I was at the back . I will not make this mistake again." said Azizulhasni who failed to qualify into the keirin final.
For Azizulhasni, the only non-Caucasian in the last eight, the opportunity to race against Hoy clearly delighted him.
"I raced him in a heat before in Germany but this is the quarterfinal. After the race, officials from the other camps came over and said I have a good future... I'm very encouraged," he said.
Before he heads back to training in Melbourne, Azizulhasni will be returning to Dungun for the Hari Raya celebrations.
"I haven't been home for a long time," he quipped.