Malaysia’s “Pocket Rocketman” Azizulhasni Awang won his first world title with a superb men’s keirin victory at the Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong on Thursday.
Azizulhasni beat the likes of Colombian Fabian Hernando Puerto Zapata and Tomas Babek of Czech Republic with a time of 10.253 seconds. Puerto Zapata was just 0.382s behind Azizulhasni, while Babek at 0.417s behind.
Awang became Malaysia’s first Olympic cycling medallist last August in Rio, with bronze. Awang has come close on numerous occasions and he said:
” I just screamed, watched the scoreboard and saw my name in first place. I just cannot believe it. I’ve been trying for 10 years. Finally, it’s my time to be a world champion. It’s unbelievable. Keep trying and never give up… today is my day after 10 years.”
Awang’s gold was his fifth Track World Championships medal, 10 years after his first participation in the global event. He won sprint silver behind France’s Gregory Bauge in 2009 and Keirin silver a year later behind Sir Chris Hoy. He was third in the Keirin in 2015 and 2016 before triumphing this year.
The rider known as the ‘Pocket Rocketman’ due to his diminutive stature, particularly compared to his sprint rivals, has no plans to take off his new prized possession – the rainbow jersey.