HE is the World No 1 in the keirin, UCI World Cup keirin champion and reigning double Asian champion and someone doesn't have an option but to be No 2 in Azizul Hasni Awang's life.
Smitten by the love bug, Azizul promises it will only serve to inspire him further rather than bog him down, more so now as his girlfriend Athiah Ilyana Abdul Samat is closer to him in Australia."We got to know each other through the Friendster online social network and met up at a gym when I was home a year ago. We've been getting closer with time," said Azizul.With uncertainty over whether Britain's Chris Hoy will recover from a hip injury in time for the UCI Track World Championships in Pruskow, Poland on March 25-29, Azizul is among the hot favourites for the keirin gold medal.Malaysia line up with the possibility of registering two of Malaysia's first ever World Championships medals through Azizul and 1km time trial specialist Rizal Tisin.
Rizal too is on top form, having won the gold medal in Round Three of the UCI World Cup in Beijing in January, while the duo will team up with Josiah Ng for the team sprint in which Malaysia should be good for a top eight finish.Questions have been asked of Azizul's focus for the World Championships, more so since Athiah Ilyana moved to Australia to further her studies at the University of Geelong, Deakin last month."Some people may think this will disrupt an athlete's focus. But for me, she provides inspiration and she's very understanding. She knows what I want to achieve as an athlete and she supports me all the way," said Azizul."Having a girlfriend does not necessarily mean an athlete loses focus. That matter has never crossed my mind. It depends on the athlete."As far as his form is concerned, Azizul maintains the team have had just one major goal this season, which is the World Championships, and that is all everything is geared towards.