Monday, July 13, 2015

Track cyclist Azizulhasni back on top in Japan

PETALING JAYA: Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang has reinforced his reputation as Asia’s flagbearer in keirin with a storming ride in the Japan Track Cup II at Izu Velodrome in Shujenzi.

The 27-year-old Azizul, a bronze medallist at the Track World Championships in Paris in February, timed his final burst to perfection to come out tops in an impressive six-man final field for keirin.
Azizul finished ahead of Incheon Asian Games silver medallist Kazunari Watanabe while 2011 world champion Shane Perkins took bronze.

Azizul won the first-round heat and reached the final in similar fashion, finishing first in the second semis ahead of 2013 world championships bronze medallist Matthijs Buchli of Holland and Kazunari.
Muhd Shah Firdaus Sahrom just missed out on the top-six final after coming in fourth in the first semis won by Perkins.

This is a perfect boost to his build-up to the second phase of Olympic qualification period for track cycling, which starts in November.
There’s a lot to look forward to for Azizul as his wife Athiah Ilyana Abd Samat is due to give birth to their second child, also a girl, in September.

Azizul, who also won gold in keirin at the Asian Cycling Championships in Korat in February, finished third in his pet race in Japan Track Cup I on Friday and was determined to make amends on Saturday.

“There are a lot of good things happening this year. I feel so happy with the victory today. I missed first place yesterday (on Friday) because I was stuck on the inside as we headed for the finish line,” said Azizul.

“I learned from that mistake and managed to get everything perfect today.
“It was a tough field ... even reigning world champion Francois Pervis of France failed to get past the first round.

“I hope to do well in the sprint tomorrow (today) too,” added Azizul, who thanked his sponsors Sime Darby Foundation for providing good support to the elite team.
Azizul’s win made up for the disappointment of Fatehah Mustapa’s relegation to sixth place in the women’s keirin final for a technical infringement earlier.

Fatehah, who bagged a double in sprint and keirin in Japan Track Cup I on Friday, qualified for the final after finishing third in the first semis heat. Farina Shawati Mohd Adnan failed to join her after finishing fifth in the second semis heat.

Eiman Firdaus Mohd Zamri won silver for Malaysia in the men’s junior points race final behind Immamura Shunsuke of Japan.

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