KUALA LUMPUR: National track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang has been living up to his moniker of ‘Pocket Rocket’ since he stepped up the elite ranks in 2007.
But there is another side to Azizul that many do not know.
The pint-sized cyclist, who has two World Championships silver medals under his belt and is bound for the London Olympics, likes to cook up a storm in the kitchen.
Azizul has a passion for cooking and often whips up dishes not just for his loved ones but also his cycling mates whenever they have a reason to celebrate.
Azizul, the 2010 National Sportsman of the Year, said his interest in cooking began when he joined the Melbourne training base in 2007.
“It was necessary for me to know how to cook simple meals rather than eating out all the time,” he said.
“I had to follow a certain diet depending on the training programme and I realised it was best that I prepared my own meals. I was also motivated to learn how to cook dishes that my wife likes. She is busy with her studies and I keep her happy by doing things for her.
“Cooking has become an enjoyable pastime for me. Now my wife has accepted that I can cook an entire meal for dinner. We take turns to cook during weekends when we have the time and especially during the fasting month.
“I’m pleased when things turn out fine but it’s frustrating when they don’t,” said the 24-year-old from Terengganu, who got married two years ago and will become a father for the first time in late October.
The first thing he successfully cooked for his wife was English breakfast and he has since tried his hand at preparing tomyam, curry puffs, chicken schnitzel and nasi dagang.
Azizul even baked a birthday cake for his wife, Athiah Ilyana, last year.
“My favourites are nasi dagang and chicken schnitzel, which is a popular dish in Australia.
“I don’t like desserts but I have tried to make kuih (small cakes eaten before or after meals),” said Azizul.
Apart from cooking, Azizul is also trying his hand at gardening. Azizul moved into a new place with a backyard and has planting things like daun kesum (laksa leaves), spring onion and chillies.
Azizul will be making his second Olympic appearance together with Josiah Ng and Fatehah Mustapa in London next month.
And hopes are high that the wannabe chef will whip up a storm on the London track and make cycling history for the country.