TOKYO: An unexpected early sprint by defending champion Jason Kenny of Britain thwarted national cyclist Azizulhasni Awang’s bid to deliver Malaysia’s first Olympic gold medal today.
As the dust settled on the keirin final, which saw Kenny power to the gold medal, Azizulhasni had to be contented with a hard-fought silver as Dutchman Harrie Lavreysen settled for bronze at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka.
The Melbourne-based Azizulhasni had earlier started the day with a top-two finish in Heat 3 of the quarterfinals before going on to win Heat 2 of the semifinals.
Although he could not deliver the coveted gold despite a superb performance, Azizulhasni is still the most decorated national track cyclist and the only Malaysian to win Olympic medals.
This is the 33-year-old’s fourth straight Olympics since the 2008 edition in Beijing.
Azizulhasni, nicknamed The Pocket Rocketman, did not qualify for the keirin final in Beijing and finished sixth at London 2012 before winning his first Olympic medal – a bronze – at Rio 2016.
His silver is the second and final medal for the country in Tokyo after men’s doubles shuttlers Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik won the bronze medal playoff against Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Kenny, the keirin and sprint champion in Rio, now has seven Olympic gold medals under his belt – breaking the six-gold record he shared with legendary compatriot Chris Hoy.
His victory extends Britain’s domination of men’s keirin, with the nation winning every edition since 2008.