LONDON, Aug 6 (Bernama) -- The country's gold medal hopes will now rest on the shoulders of cyclist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang, after Datuk Lee Chong Wei lost to China's Lin Dan in the men's singles badminton final, last night.
The attention of the nation, still expecting a first ever gold medal from the Olympics, will now shift to the London Velodrome where Azizulhasni will be competing in the keirin event tomorrow.
Just like Chong Wei, the 24-year-old cyclist from Terengganu, dubbed the 'Pocketrocketman', lost his opportunity to win a medal, let alone the gold, when he lost in the men's Sprint event at the quarterfinal stage.
Realising the expectation of the 28 million Malaysians, Azizulhasni said he respected the wishes of the entire Malaysian population and the responsibility that he would have to shoulder now after Chong Wei's defeat.
"I myself want to win a gold medal badly but more importantly, the bigger mission is to win a gold for the people of Malaysia," he told reporters here today.
Since 1956, only shuttlers in the men's doubles, Cheah Soon Kit/Yap Kim Hock (Atlanta, 1996) and men's singles, Datuk Lee Chong Wei (Beijing 2008), have come close to clinching the gold but ended up with silver medals.
The Sidek brothers, Razif and Jalani, contributed Malaysia's first Olympic medal with a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games while their younger brother Rashid took home a bronze from the men's singles at the same Games.
Azizulhasni who will have a rest day today after the Sprint event yesterday, will be discussing the best possible strategy in the keirin event with head coach John Beasley, especially when facing world champion and defending champion Sir Chris Hoy of Great Britain.
"We have discussed the early strategy, especially when facing Chris Hoy who won three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and who will have a strong backing from the home fans," he said.
In Beijing, four years ago, Azizulhasni managed seventh spot in the event.
Meanwhile, cycling team manager Datuk Naim Mohamad said though Azizulhasni was entered as the main rider for both the Sprint and keirin events, the main medal target was on keirin.
From Zulhilmi Supaat -- BERNAMA