Azizulhasni gets 2 shots at Olympic gold

The ‘Pocket Rocketman’ is a strong favourite to bring home Malaysia’s first Olympic gold. (Reuters pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: National track cycling ace Azizulhasni Awang will have two bites at the cherry as he goes for gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in July.

With his double bronze effort at the recently concluded Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin, Germany, the Pocket Rocketman has qualified for the Summer Games’ keirin and sprint events.

This will be Azizulhasni’s fourth straight appearance at the Olympics, having won keirin bronze at Rio in 2016.

According to the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) latest world ranking, Azizulhasni rose five spots to fifth place in the sprint event with 2,415 points.

The Berlin meet was the last Olympic qualifying tournament and based on the UCI format, only the top seven riders in keirin and sprint events qualify for the Olympics.

National rider Shah Firdaus Sahrom, however, failed to qualify for Tokyo after placing 15th (1,687.5 points) in sprint and 40th (1,102 points) in keirin.

So far, 11 Malaysian athletes have made the cut for the Tokyo Games.

The other 10 are artistic gymnast Farah Ann Hadi; sailors Khairulnizam Afendy (men’s laser standard), Nur Shazrin Latif (women’s laser radial), Nuraisyah Jamil and Juni Karimah Noor Jamali (women’s international 470); men’s recurve archer Khairul Anuar Mohamad; divers Nur Dhabitah Sabri, Wendy Ng (women’s 3m springboard), Pandelela Rinong (women’s 10m platform) and her partner in women’s 10m platform synchronised Leong Mun Yee.