Thursday, March 17, 2016

Azizulhasni, Fatehah in for a thorough prep for Rio Olympics

PETALING JAYA: It’s all-or-nothing for World Track Championships bronze medallist Azizulhasni Awang when he makes his third Olympic appearance in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Azizul and Fatehah Mustapa were confirmed as Malaysia’s representatives in track cycling following the announcement of the Rio Olympic quota slots by UCI, the world governing body for cycling.
Malaysia joins South Korea, China and Japan as the qualifiers from Asia, making up the 36-nation cast for track cycling.

Azizul will ride in men’s keirin while Fatehah will focus on the women’s sprint. Malaysia also earned a reserve slot for women’s omnium, but Jupha Somnet will only get to compete if one of the countries decline to send a rider.

With the Olympic qualifying done and dusted, head coach John Beasley said his focus would be on getting the duo ready for the challenges in Rio.

Beasley is set to concentrate more on Azizul, who despite missing five weeks of training due to a muscle tear and flu virus, showed that he is a genuine medal contender in Rio after taking bronze at the world meet in London.

After surviving two tough heats, Azizul advanced to the top-six final. However, he was boxed in the final lap and settled for the bronze as Germany’s Joachim Eilers went on to take the gold.
“He could have easily won the race if not for the tactical mistake in letting New Zealand’s Edward Dawkins (eventual silver medallist) overtake early. But a medal was what we wanted and Azizul was smart to race conservatively,” said Beasley.

“It was a pretty special achievement for him to get a medal considering he lost a few weeks of training in the lead-up to the world meet.”

Among the areas Beasley and his support team will be working on with the duo leading to the Olympics are on increasing their power-to-weight ratio, physiology and psychology apart from track training.

“Azizul is only 60kg and the one closest to him is Jason Kenny (Britain’s Olympic champion for sprint), who is 80kg  ... the others weigh 90kg or more. Needless to say, he is also the shortest of them all,” said the coach.

“It takes a lot out of him, so it’s also good that he is not doing sprint as it’ll take place before the keirin.

“So we’ll arrive there later from our Portugal training base. It’s vital we get things right. After coming close in London in 2012, it’s all about going for the gold medal this time and he only has one crack at it.

“Out of the world meet, he was the most improved rider. It’s going to be the same field at the Olympics and you have to be on your best on that day ... we will make sure he has the confidence to go for it.”

The Star

No comments: