KORAT (Thailand): Veteran Azizulhasni Awang wanted to make history in front of his younger team-mates but his hopes of a double gold for Malaysia in the Asian Cycling Championships was dashed by Japanese Tomoyuki Kawabata in the men’s sprint final at the Korat Velodrome.
The 27-year-old won the keirin race on Thursday and was seeking to take the sprint title on Sunday to become the first cyclist to achieve the feat twice in Asian cycling history.
But Azizul, who won the sprint and keirin titles in Nara, Japan, in 2008, was narrowly beaten after putting up a great fight. Azizul was beaten on the line in the deciding heat by Kawabata and had to be contented with the silver.
Kawabata had defeated Azizul in the sprint semi-finals at the Incheon Asian Games last year, but eventually settled for the Asiad silver behind China’s Bao Saifei.
Earlier on Sunday, Azizul had beaten China’s Xu Chao over two heats to reach the semi-finals while Josiah Ng’s last appearance at the Asian Championships did not end well as he exited the competition.
Azizul then went on to brush aside Kang Dong-jin of South Korea over two heats to reach the final.
“I am sad I could not get this gold. I wanted to inspire the juniors who are here by winning the double as it is not often we get to race on the same track.
“I am sorry. I gave everything but it didn’t turn out well. Tactically, the Japanese is better on outdoor track as they train in these conditions back home,” said the Melbourne-based Azizul.
Fatehah Mustapa’s hopes of picking up a third medal was dashed after she finished fifth in the women’s keirin final.
China’s Lin Junhong added the Asian title to her World Cup triumph in Cali, Colombia, last month after crossing the line ahead of South Korean Lee Hye-jin.
Hong Kong’s Lee Wai Sze, the Asian keirin champion for the last two years and winner of the sprint on Saturday, settled for the bronze.
Fatehah, who claimed the silver in the 500m time trial and bronze in the sprint, reached the top-six final after finishing second behind Wai Sze in her semi-final heat.
Malaysia ended the track competition with a 2-3-4 haul.
by Lim Teik Huat - The Star