Asian Games: ‘I wish Azizulhasni could come, but his health takes precedence’ – Shah Firdaus

SEPANG — National track cyclist Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom (picture) has revealed that he tried to persuade teammate Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang to continue to compete in the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games following the latter’s recent injury.

Muhammad Shah Firdaus said he had tried his best to inspire Mohd Azizulhasni, but the 2020 Olympic Games men’s keirin silver medalist felt he could not compete with high intensity in Hangzhou.

“I hoped he could recover in time. A few days after the (training) mishap, we went back to the velodrome, and even though he could pedal as usual, he couldn’t push it. I did try to convince Azizulhasni, but he said he couldn’t as he was in pain.

“But I finally understood that his health was the most important,” he said when met by Bernama at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) before departing for Hangzhou, today.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games men’s keirin bronze medal winner also admitted that all the plans to compete at the Asiad with Mohd Azizulhasni – who is better known as the ‘The Pocket Rocketman’ – were affected following the latter’s absence.

Realising that the responsibility to deliver now rested on his shoulders, Muhammad Shah Firdaus said he was ready to take on the challenge.

He said that the pressure to perform at any sporting event or tournament was there regardless of whether Mohd Azizulhasni joined him or not, but said the latter wanted him to take the opportunity to shine and do his best at the quadrennial event in China.

As such, the Johor-born rider said he hoped to be able to advance to the men’s keirin final with Mohd Azizulhasni’s replacement, Mohd Fadhil Mohd Zonis.

“All riders have a fair chance, but it depends on who is smart and uses the right strategy at the right moment (to win gold).

“Everyone wants to win the gold, no one comes to compete to get number two or three but we must trust the process and take it one race at a time, if we enter the final, then we can think about winning gold,” he said.

On Wednesday (Sept 20), Mohd Azizulhasni announced his withdrawal from the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games following an injury he suffered during a training session at the National Velodrome in Nilai, last week.

The 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games – postponed for a year due to COVID-19 – will officially begin tomorrow and end on Oct 8.