HONG KONG: Malaysia’s “Pocket Rocket Man” Azizulhasni Awang pledged to sleep in his victor’s rainbow jersey and keep it on until he returns home after a decade of blood and sweat paid off with his first world track cycling title.
The Olympic bronze medallist pulled a wheelie on the finish line and clutched the Malaysian flag to his chest after winning the men’s keirin with a brilliant finish in Hong Kong.
“After I crossed the line, I saw nobody on my right or my left,” said the 29-year-old who welled up with tears as he spoke to media at the Hong Kong Velodrome.
“I just waited and watched the scoreboard and I saw my name on the first place and I just cannot believe it… it’s like I’m dreaming.”
Thursday’s win ends a decade-long drought at the track championships for Awang, who said the victory was down to a relentless training regime and unbridled self-belief.
“I never stopped trying, I kept trying. I kept pushing harder in the training. Sometimes I puked… because I really want to become world champion,” said Awang.
“I don’t want to end up my career become second or third, so I promised to myself to keep pushing because I know if I don’t give up, it’s going to be my day.”
Now that he finally has the jersey, he said he won’t be taking it off in a hurry.
“I’m going to sleep with this jersey tonight, definitely,” he told AFP.
“On the way back to Malaysia, I’m going to wear it too. And if you don’t believe me, I’m going to take a photo and put it on my Instagram.”-NST