Monday, August 6, 2012 | | By: Febi

Real target

FORGET the sprint for that was never Azizulhasni Awang's real target.

Azizulhasni Awang achieved his  quarter-finals target  in the sprint.
Azizulhasni Awang achieved his quarter-finals target in the sprint.

It is today where the 'Pocket Rocketman' has to show his class and win Malaysia a second medal at the London Olympics.
  Gold would be preferred, after shuttler Lee Chong Wei came agonisingly close in the men's singles final to ending the nation's wait on Sunday.

   Azizul, it must be said, never really stood a chance in the sprint for Britain's Jason Kenny was simply too strong and too swift for the Malaysian, who eventually finished eighth, in the quarter-finals.
   Malaysia, given the hype, is sure to be disappointed but the keirin is, team manager Datuk Naim Mohamad stressed, Azizul's real target.

  "Azizul's target in the sprint was to make the quarter-finals, which he did and we are pleased with his performance and form going into the keirin," said Naim yesterday.
  Although Azizul tried his best against Kenny in the sprint, the Briton proved that he was the master as he beat the Malaysian at his own game.

  Azizul opted for an early sprint in the first race but Kenny easily overtook him to win.
The second saw the Briton going for the early push and Azizul was left gasping and he wasn't really too interested in the fifth-eighth placing race as he finished in the same position he did four years ago -- eighth.

   The keirin will be another challenge as the overwhelming favourite is Britain's Chris Hoy, a treble gold medallist in 2008.

   The keirin was one of the gold medals Hoy won, which led to him being knighted, and is the only individual event he is competing in London.

   Kenny, who lost the 2008 final to Hoy, was preferred for the sprint, and he has shown why, and Hoy will be determined to add an individual title to the team sprint he won just days ago.
   The advantage is still with Hoy and the challenge posed by others must also not be underestimated but the keirin is an extremely tactical race which requires bravery, something which Azizul doesn't lack.

   He has proven his ability time and again, winning the 2010 Asian Games gold after sensationally being disqualified after taking the title in the Commonwealth Games the same year while he was -- prior to a splinter piercing his calf last year -- extremely consistent in the World Cup.

   Motivation for Azizul should come from Chong Wei, who overcame his own obstacles to win silver, and the cyclist from Dungun must ensure that Malaysia has something more to cheer for in the London Olympics.

Meanwhile, divers Yeoh Ken Nee and Huang Qiang were involved in the first round of men's 3m springboard late yesterday.

Had they advanced, the semi-finals will be today followed by the final.

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