National cyclist Azizulhasni Awang declared today that he is in the best shape of his life ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games that will kick off next week.
The ‘Pocket Rocketman’ will compete in two events at the Games – keirin and sprint. A bronze medallist in the keirin at the Rio Olympics five years ago, he is among the favourites to strike gold this year.
Speaking at a virtual press conference, Azizulhasni said: “I am in tip-top condition. The best shape of my life.
“I would say this is the first time I am heading into a major event with nothing to worry about – no illness, flu or niggling injuries.
“For the last few training sessions, I have been working on my speed. Recently, I raced against a motorcycle and clocked nearly 90km/h.
“That’s fast and quite scary considering my bicycle only weighs 6.8kg.”
Speaking of his bicycle, Azizulhasni said he has taken delivery of the final version of the WXR Vorteq bicycle, which he would use in Tokyo.
He used the prototype at last year’s Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin, Germany, and won bronze medals in the keirin and sprint events.
“Unlike the prototype bicycle, which was flat black, I have a more colourful version for the Olympics. Wait for me to unveil it there,” said the 2017 world keirin champion in jest.
“I am grateful that the Olympics has been given the go-ahead after all the uncertainty over Covid-19.
“I am 33 this year. It could be my best chance of winning a gold medal.”
He added the Olympics is an open field as only the best of the best has qualified.
“Everyone has a chance of winning. I have to play my cards right and make sure I plan for any contingency during the races.”
Meanwhile, badminton player Lee Zii Jia said he, too, was prepared for anything in Tokyo.
The All England champion could meet defending champion Chen Long of China in the second round.
“To win a tournament, you have to beat the best players. It does not matter if it is in the early or later rounds. You beat who is in front of you,” said Lee, who is making his first appearance at the Olympics.
“I am going out there to give my best and to make Malaysia proud. As Azizul said earlier, we are just grateful that the Olympics has been given the go-ahead.
“For a while, the fear that it would be postponed was real.”
Both athletes agreed it would be strange competing without any fans in the arenas but promised that it would not affect their concentration.