Arnaz M. Khairul
His show of grit in jumping back on his bike with a wood splinter piercing his left calf, saved his entire season's hard work confirming his historic third UCI World Cup overall keirin title and keeping him in the lead in the Olympic qualifying rankings.
Had he not made that split second decision. Azizul's season would have ended in tatters with the injury ruling him out of the World Championships in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands on March 23-28 and he would have lost the lead in all the ranking that mattered.
"I didn't think much. After the crash, all I thought was about the UCI World Cup jersey. I needed to finish at least fourth to guarantee it, so I just got back on my bike and rode across the finish line," said Azizul, when contacted in Manchester yesterday.
"I felt pain when I crashed, as it was a hard tumble. But I didn't realise the splinter had pierced through until after I had crossed the finish line."
Doctors at the Royal Infirmary in Manchester, where Azizul had the nine-inch long splinter surgically removed from his calf yesterday morning, have told Azizul to stay off the bike for at least two weeks or until the wounds have fully recovered.
That effectively ruled him out of the World Championships, something the 23-year old from Dungun had programmed his whole season towards.
"I will have to take at least two weeks off, or more if required, to allow for the wound to fully heal. Pushing it would make it worse, so I think it would be better to allow proper recovery," said Azizul.
"Of course I'm disappointed that my season ended like this but under the circumstances, I will just have to accept fate.
"The top priority is next year's Olympics and I still have time to fully recover and prepare for the next World Cup season and continue the qualifying programme then."
Azizul was last night discharged from the hospital and boarded the flight together with his teammates back to their training base in Melbourne.
Read more: Cycling: Azizul's grit saves his season http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/odvouidvj/Article#ixzz1EeYBt0jD