M Update, 10/2/2021 – Azizulhasni Awang added another feather to his cap after topping the UCI track cycling world rankings in the individual sprint for the first time yesterday.
The Pocket Rocketman shot to first place with 1,600 points in the world body’s latest rankings after his efforts in winning the individual sprint bronze in the world championships and gold in the Asian Championship last year.
Japan’s Tomohiro Fukaya is second with 1,442.5 points while New Zealand’s Sam Webster is third on 1,390. Last year’s Asian Championships were brought forward to 2019 to make way for the Tokyo Olympics at the time.
Meanwhile, Azizulhasni is ranked second in the keirin – his pet event – on 1,740, only 50 points behind current leader Kevin Quintero of Colombia. Japan’s Yuta Wakimoto is third (1,715).
Azizulhasni’s national teammate, Shah Firdaus Sahrom, who has also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, is currently 18th (922.5) in the individual sprint and 37th (635) in the keirin rankings.
Topping the world sprint rankings is a rewarding achievement for Azizulhasni who has worked very hard to improve his power-to-weight ratio – which is especially important in the sprint – over the past few years.
Azizulhasni, who won the world keirin title in 2017 and bronze in the same discipline at the Rio Olympics, has been World No. 1 in the keirin on numerous occasions in the past.
“I am very happy (with the sprint ranking). Some might say the world rankings are not important as you can get more points by joining more races,” said Azizulhasni. Nevertheless, it (World No 1 ranking) gives me the added motivation and it is good for of my preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.”
With the Tokyo games only five months away, Azizulhasni has little time to let his latest achievement sink in, especially with riders from the host nation showing great improvements in recent seasons not least the well- documented rivals from the Netherlands and Britain.
“Benoit Vetu (France) has been in charge of (coaching) Japan for the past few years and I think their training quality has improved a lot,” said Azizulhasni. Previously, they were quite old school (in their approach) but they are very serious about doing well at their home Olympics. I think they are going to be a threat along with the Europeans,” said Azizulhasni. – NST