Five-time National Sportsman Azizulhasni still hungry for more

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (centre) takes one for the album with Azizulhasni (second left) and Pandelela (second right) at the 2021 National Sports Awards today. Also seen is Minister of Sports and Youth Hannah Yeoh (left). — Bernama photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 31): National track cycling ace Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang is still hungry for more success despite creating history by being named the National Sportsman for the fifth time – the most ever by a male athlete.

Mohd Azizulhasni said that winning it for a fifth time at the 2021 National Sports Awards (ASN) today has boosted his determination to clinch it a sixth time since he intends to retire after the 2024 Paris Olympics in France.

“I will go all out to ensure I am crowned (National Sportsman) a sixth time, it’s a dream for me but I will continue to work hard to make it come true,” he told the media after the 2021 ASN at the National Sports Council (NSC) Banquet Hall in Bukit Jalil, here, today.

Commenting on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s challenge to the Malaysian contingent to bag the country’s first Olympic gold in Paris, the former world champion said that being a senior athlete, he accepts the challenge.

However, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics keirin silver medallist feels that junior athletes should also shoulder the responsibility of realising Malaysia’s dream of its first-ever Olympic gold medal.

The 35-year-old rider also said that he will use the three legs of the 2023 UCI Track Cycling Nations Cup, which begins in February, to collect points to qualify for the 2023 World Championships that will be held in Glasgow, Scotland from Aug 3-13.

Mohd Azizulhasni will begin his Nations Cup quest in Jakarta, Indonesia on Feb 23-26, followed by Cairo, Egypt (March 14-17) and Milton, Canada (April 20-23).

National diving queen Datuk Pandelela Rinong, meanwhile, admitted to being surprised when she won the National Sportswoman award for the fourth time as she did not perform convincingly in 2021 despite winning the 10-metre (m) platform individual gold in the World Cup in Tokyo, Japan.

“I hope to continue diving for as long as I can and win as many championships as possible at the international level,” she said.

Meanwhile, National Paralympic Sportsman Bonnie Bunyau Gustin, who was visibly moved after winning the award, hopes to maintain his performance all the way to the 2024 Paralympics.

Swimmer Brenda Anellia Larry, who clinched the National Paralympic Sportswoman award, dedicated the victory to her family and her coach, Eva Wong Hie Ming, for their support which proved pivotal in her making her debut in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. — Bernama

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