Awang back on track, as teammates change direction

Malaysian track star returns to training after his injury at Manchester

Few will ever forget the harrowing images of Malaysia’s top track sprinter, Azizulhasni Awang, as his leg was skewered right through by a huge wooden stake-sized splinter of the Manchester Velodrome during the keirin event at the Track World Cup earlier this year.

Fortunately for the 23-year old Malaysian, this was the closing round of the 2010-11 World Cup, and he had already earned enough points in the previous rounds to secure his overall victory in the keirin competition. But the flipside of the injury was that he was ruled out of this year's World Track Championships, where he had high hopes of becoming the first Malaysian rider ever to take a world cycling title.

The injuries to Awang’s leg were substantial, and put an end to his season. After having the “splinter” removed in Manchester, he returned to the Malaysian team’s training base in Melbourne before heading to his home region on the east coast of Malaysia, where he was married, and then set about his rehabilitation.

Currently, Awang is training at the Malaysian National Sports Centre in Kuala Lumpur, and took his first ride this week.

“My leg is getting better now; I planned to go back to Melbourne to continue training, but the physiotherapist wanted to postpone things so they could check me after every training session.”

For some time the Malaysian track team have had their aims pinned on the London 2012 Olympics, especially the team sprint. But things have not quite panned out for the squad trained by Australian John Beasley, and Awang now looks like he could be the only male Malaysian cyclist to make it to London; “My points slot for the keirin in London is quite comfortable; I just need to win a World Cup or finish top 5 in each round next season to keep my number one ranking.”

With the team sprint candidates Josiah Ng and Rizal Tisin looking unlikely to qualify for London, things are a little up in the air, and the 26-year old Tisin, who took a bronze medal in the individual sprint at the 2009 World Track Championships, has recently switched back to the BMX track, where he started cycling. His hope is to try and make it to the 2016 Olympics in Rio as a BMX’er, and has yet to decide whether he will continue with his track career too.

The country’s original sprint sensation, Josiah Ng (who finished 5th in the keirin at the Beijing Olympics and was twice ranked world number one in the discipline), is the oldest member of the team at 31, and looks set to continue on the track, although in June he will be taking part in the KL Marathon.

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