PETALING JAYA: It has been described as a giant toothpick sticking out of his left leg by a British news-paper and Malaysian track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang can thank his lucky stars that his cycling career is still intact.
Azizul was recovering after undergoing surgery to remove a 20cm-long splinter of the Manchester Velodrome track that went through his left calf muscle during a crash at the Track World Cup last Saturday night.
Awang managed to remount his bike after the high-speed crash in the keirin final and stagger across the line to claim a bronze medal, earning him a third overall World Cup title as a result.
He was rushed to a local hospital but medics waited until Sunday to carry out the procedure, which coach John Beasley described as a very delicate procedure.
“They said it’s best if they do it with all their experts around and when everyone’s fresh. The only way they can do it is by surgically going in from both ends and spreading it apart and pulling it out,” said Beasley.
Beasley decided to pull Azizul out of the World Championships in Holland from March 23-27 although he should be back on his bike by then.
For Beasley more important goal for Azizul is the Olympics in London and he wants his star rider to be on top by then.
“He’ll be right for the Olympics. Hopefully Chris Hoy will be in second place and he’ll be on the top,” he added.
The tale of Azizul’s rare injury and the grit he showed in getting back on his bike to complete the race was carried by the British and Australian papers.
“I’ve been involved in cycling a long time and you hear tales of these injuries, riders being speared through the ribs, but that is by far the worst I have seen although initially I wasn’t aware of it.
“I helped him back to his bike, having checking the rider’s head and state of mind.
“I feel really bad because I didn’t even see it,” added the head coach, who said adrenaline probably took Awang across the line.
“It wasn’t until later I knew he had the splinter,” he added.
Azizul was due to be discharged yesterday and team manager Datuk Naim Mohamad said he will be flown back to his Melbourne base to recover.