SEPANG: After winning the world keirin title at the UCI Track World Championships in Hong Kong on Thursday, national elite track cyclist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang has now set his sights on the gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
"Of course becoming a world champion was my dream, and until now, I cannot believe that I actually managed to achieve it. "However, winning the world championship is not the time for me to become complacent ... the more we achieve, the harder we need to work to maintain it. I'm the type of person who is not easily deterred. My ultimate target now is the 2020 Olympics (Tokyo, Japan)," he told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) this evening after arriving from Hong Kong.
Mohd Azizulhasni, along with National track cycling head coach John Beasley and fellow cyclist Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom were welcomed by National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail and National Sports Institute (NSI) chief executive officer Dr Mohd Khairi Zawi.
However, the highlight of the event was when the 29 year old from Dungun, Terengganu rejoiced upon meeting his wife, Athiah Ilyana Abd Samat and two daughters, Mariam Amna, 4, and Amna Khadeeja, 1.
Azizulhasni said he needed double his efforts after becoming world champion, as there were three more world championships before the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
"I need to take steps to keep going up, not down. I have to try harder than I have done," said the bronze medallist in the keirin event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
According to him, Beasley will most certainly be planning his training programme ahead of the Olympic Games in 2020.
"The training will be designed just to build up towards the Olympic Games. Whether to defend a title or win any tournament the planning is up to the coach," he said, adding he also wanted to do his best in the upcoming SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur this year. Scores of supporters had gathered at the arrival hall to greet the cyclist known among his peers as 'The Pocketrocketman' donning the 'Team Malaysia' shirts and shouting the slogan 'Malaysia Boleh' while waving the Jalur Gemilang.
University student Ahmad Daniel Rosly, 20, said he was lucky to be among those present to greet the national hero, besides having the opportunity to get a picture with him.
"I consider him (Mohd Azizulhasni) my idol and his success has become the pride of our nation," he said.
For retiree Mohammed Ali Yaakob, 61, who loves cycling in his free time, it was a sweet moment to get up close with the cycling legend.
"The opportunity to get together and greet Azizulhasni will be a treasured memory for me. His success can be a source of inspiration for all young riders, " said the father of eight.
In the final held at the Hong Kong Velodrome, Mohd Azizulhasni mustered an energetic performance to beat Colombia's Fabian Hernando Puerta Zapata and Tomas Babek of the Czech Republic - who finished second and third respectively, earning himself the coveted rainbow jersey. -- BERNAMA