By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: He is not known as the Pocket Rocketman by his peers for nothing and Azizul Hasni Awang will be out to live up to the moniker again at the Asian Cycling Championships (ACC) starting in Kalimantan this weekend.
The 21-year-old Azizul will not just be defending his individual keirin and 200m sprint titles at the Asian meet as he has been entered for the team sprint event by coach John Beasley as well. For the team sprint, Azizul will be the starter followed by Mohd Edrus Yunos while Rizal Tisin will be the customary anchor rider in what is a repeat of their sensational silver medal performance at the ACC in Nara, Japan last year.
However, the Asian meet this time will be a stiff test of Azizul’s capabilities as he now has to devote equal time to training and studies.
The 21-year-old enrolled for a business course at University of Deakin in Melbourne in June, three months after making history with a silver-medal winning ride at the World Championships in Poland.
However, Beasley does not doubt the ability of his charge.
“I am satisfied with his current fitness level although he is attending university.
“He goes for training at the gym in the morning before going to class and he works on the track in the afternoon.
“I have no doubt that he should finish on the podium but we just don’t know what colour of the medal he will end up with.
“It does not matter much as this is a rebuilding process.
“Our more important priorities are ahead of us next year starting with the World Championships in March and then moving on to the Commonwealth and Asian Games,” said Beasley, who will leave with the team for Kalimantan on Wednesday.
Malaysia enjoyed their most successful outing at the ACC last year, thanks to Azizul’s double and Rizal’s triumph in the 1km time trial.