Malaysia’s “Pocket Rocket” Wins First Track Cycling Medal for the Country
Togoparts Editorial Team | 17th Aug 2016 | NEWS
Eight years after carrying Malaysia’s flag during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, 28-year old Azizulhasni Awang finally fulfilled his dream of winning the first track cycling medal for Malaysia.
The Malaysian representative, who suffered a leg injury in 2011, finished in third place, just behind Netherland’s Matthijs Buchli and Britain’s Jason Kenny, which took home the gold.
Despite not winning the gold, Awang is feeling happy and proud of his achievement after the race.
“It means a lot. We’ve been waiting for an Olympic cycling medal for a very long time,” said Awang, who was nicknamed the “pocket rocket” due to his small stature.
Awang started cycling by riding mountain bikes around the fishing villages in eastern Malaysia, were he spent his early years. At 16 years old, he took up track cycling after being spotted racing in Kuala Lumpur.
Awang, despite the relative lack of experience using a track bike, won a race that pitted him against national cyclists. A coach who had been watching Awang encouraged him to move to Kuala Lumpur for further training. At 18 years old, after showing promising results, he moved to Australia, where he currently lives.
Taking Track Cycling Home
Awang admitted that his move to Australia was not an easy choice.
“I love my country but to be a professional cyclist I had to leave my family, my friends and stay in Melbourne,” he said.
After getting an Olympic medal, Awang is hopeful that his success can encourage more people in Malaysia to get into track cycling and invest in the sport.
“Track cycling is not a huge sport in Malaysia. We only have two velodromes and one is broken and the other one is going to be demolished,” Awang said.
There is good news for Awang and other aspiring track cyclists in Malaysia, as construction of a new indoor velodrome in Kuala Lumpur can be finished as soon as this year. If this happens, he hopes to spend time in Kuala Lumpur during the offseason.