Joy for Josiah and pain for Azizul (The Star)
Thursday, October 7
IT WAS supposed to be Malaysian cycling’s finest moment after Azizul Hasni Awang and Josiah Ng stormed to a 1-2 finish in the men’s keirin final at the velodrome in the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex yesterday.
However, the joyous moment was dampened after Azizul was disqualified for what was deemed a dangerous move and Josiah was declared the winner.
Azizul along with Josiah were bundled inside the leading group, comprising England’s David Daniell and Peter Mitchell, Australia’s Jason Niblett and New Zealand’s Simon Van Velthooven in the final with one lap to go.
Azizul successfully made his way through Van Velthooven and Mitchell just before the finish line to lead the field home as Josiah sprinted into second position.
But then came the gut-wrenching decision and he was left with a bewildered look on his face. Josiah, who was promoted to first place ahead of Daniell and Van Velthooven, was as stunned as his younger team-mate.
Hopes punctured: Azizul Hasni Awang crossing the finish line in the keirin final yesterday. However, Azizul was later disqualified for a dangerous move and second placed Josiah was declared the winner.
“In my opinion, he did nothing wrong. They may not be happy with the way he rode but he is a racer. He deserved the gold,” said Josiah.
“But I guess this is racing. You get the short end of the stick and I have experienced it many times. I was also disqualified at the world championships and I think it’s just because I was racing against Chris Hoy (the reigning Olympic champion).”
Despite the bittersweet episode, it was truly a sensational performance from the two riders and Josiah shed tears of joy as he sang the national anthem loudly during the medal presentation ceremony.
There was reason to still celebrate as it was the country’s first-ever gold medal in Commonwealth Games cycling.
“I’m emotional but I think I deserved this. I worked so hard and there were also people who questioned whether I should still be in the team,” he said. “I let my country down a few times and it broke my heart. But today I proved that I’m still at the top.”
The 30-year-old came down with fever in the 2006 Melbourne Games and was unable to realise his full potential as the reigning World Cup champion then.
Azizul put up a brave front after learning that a glorious golden debut in the Games had been taken away.
“It’s very disappointing. I did a wheelie on the finish line as I thought I had clinched it,” he said.
“I was sandwiched between the Kiwi and the English riders but I saw a small gap and I went for it. I don’t think anyone would have dared to do this as the two were physically big riders.
“But I wanted to win and I took the chance even though I knew I could fall and end up with nothing. I felt that this was one of the best races I have done but now I have to let it go as I still have other events.”
Rizal Tisin, the silver medallist in the 1,000m time trial on Tuesday, failed to join Azizul and Josiah in the top six final. He was eliminated in the second round.
The men’s 40km points race, Adiq Husainie Othman and Hariff Salleh made it to the final and finished in eighth and 12th positions respectively in a field of 24 starters.
Foreign media laments Azizul’s disqualification
Friday, October 8
AZIZUL Hasni Awang’s (pic) disqualification in a dramatic keirin final after crossing the finish line first was the talking point among the media people at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex.
Malaysia still kept the gold with Josiah Ng breaking the Australian domination in track cycling after he was promoted from second place.
Former Olympic cycling champion Chris Boardman, who is commentator for BBC, thought that Azizul did nothing wrong and rode magnificently.
He was also impressed by Azizul’s celebration as he performed a wheelie as he crossed the finish line.
“This is a beautiful event that is now over-sanitised as far as I am concerned. I thought it was a great piece of craftmanship (from Azizul),” said Boardman.
Fellow BBC commentator Hugh Porter also thought the decision was wrong.
“The rules are spoiling the keirin. The nature of the beast is six men fighting and bumping on the track,” said Porter.
“The best man won, but he did not get his gold medal. That is a travesty.”
Metzelder says: I watched the race live and allegation of dangerous move by Azizulhasni Awang that lead to disqualified is a total conspiracy by judges of the keirin finals.
If the gold medal does not belong to Malaysian team, we should boycott the event and take further legal action in international level as MNCF president intended to pursue this matter.
Although thepocketrocketman (nickname for his power burst with small size) missed the gold but Malaysians will acknowledged him as the winner and he and Josiah Ng and Rizal Tisin finished as the best performer.
Cycling so far (Oct 8) brings 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze from Delhi Commonwealth. This is their best achievement as we return empty handed at Melbourne 4 years ago.