Monday, March 21, 2011

Azizul's big dream of velodromes

IF Azizul Hasni Awang had it his way, there would be a velodrome in each state, but for the moment the 2010 Sportsman of the Year would be happy to first see the Velodrom Rakyat in Ipoh brought back to life.

A velodrome serving each region, said 23-year-old Azizul, would aid the development of track cycling in the country seeing that results have been produced by performers in that discipline.

"Road cycling benefits more when it is the track cyclists who are performing. This is because we don't have sufficient facilities," said Azizul.

Azizul was yesterday at Balai Berita, appearing on the NST Live session where among the questions posed to him by readers were on his opinions about the Velodrom Rakyat issue.

Velodrom Rakyat, the country's first velodrome, has been suspended from hosting activities by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) due to safety concerns and its future remains in the balance with no party assuming responsibility to restore it to a satisfactory state.

As such, track cycling activities are limited to the country's only functioning velodrome, the Kuala Lumpur Velodrome in Cheras, which holds a 333.333 metre cement track.

Velodrom Rakyat's 250m outdoor timber track has constantly been needing repairs since it was first opened in 1986, with its timber track left exposed to the elements and requiring costly repairs frequently.

"We need Velodrom Rakyat to be functioning and we need facilities which are up to the mark. So, I really do hope the track is repaired and a roof constructed to protect it from the elements," said Azizul.

"The government's plans to build a world class velodrome in Nilai should also go ahead because we need such a facility in order to host world class events, which would be beneficial to the sport."

Azizul, the reigning UCI World Cup overall keirin champion, said insufficient facilities are hampering the growth of the sport.

"We need more velodromes so that track cycling can grow and for talent from all corners of the country to be nurtured," said Azizul.

"My dream is for each state to have at least one velodrome. But if that can't be achieved, at least the government should consider providing one for each region to share."

Azizul is also in the dark about progress of the planned velodrome in his hometown of Dungun, Terengganu, where the ground-breaking ceremony was held last September.

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