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Sime Darby Foundation Cycling Team on track en route to 2016‎ Rio Olympics

 

Azizulhasni Awang (middle) beaming with smiles after winning the gold medal for the 200m sprint at the Asian Cycling Championships in Kazakhstan on 25 May 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, 28 MAY 2014 – Malaysia's national anthem was played for the first time ever at the Sayarka Velodrome in Astana, Kazakhstan, where the Asian Cycling Championship (ACC) 2014 was held over the weekend.

Standing at the top spot of the podium, clutching his gold medal was Azizulhasni Awang, Malaysia’s top track cyclist, beaming with pride. This is his first win in the Sprint event since the dreadful accident in Manchester, United Kingdom back in 2011 where he suffered serious injuries during a cycling competition.

All the hard work over the past three years is now starting to pay off. Azizul finished the competition with two medals, the gold medal with a silver medal to boot in his favourite Keirin event.

A day earlier, Azizul’s team mate, Fatehah Mustapa also stood at the podium, winning the bronze medal for the 500 metres time trial event, clocking her personal best time, despite being unwell. Her health took the better of her yesterday, when she could only muster enough strength to finish fifth in the Women’s Elite Keirin event.

YABhg. Tun Musa Hitam, Chairman of Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), the sponsor of the Sime Darby Foundation Track Cycling team said, “We are delighted and very proud of both Azizul and Fatehah. The fighting spirit of these two young cyclists while representing Malaysia has been exemplary despite the odds. If they keep up with this momentum, I believe that the elusive Olympic medal will be brought home to Malaysia in 2016.”

"I have personally seen these young athletes race against the giants of track cycling in Manchester, UK last year. The pressure on them during any international meet in a foreign country, with no supporters apart from the Malaysian contingent is tremendous, and for them to come out tops, shows that our Malaysian cyclists are forces to be reckoned with,” Tun Musa added.

The track cyclists’ winnings at ACC is significant given that the ACC is the first competition where the points collected will be included as points to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Azizul dedicated his Sprint gold medal to YSD. “Alhamdulillah, this year, I have succeeded to regain the title for the Sprint event. It was an emotional win for me, after a few years of not winning any gold medals during the Asian Championships. After the "drought", I have finally qualified to wear the champion’s jersey here in Kazakhstan.”

“I had targeted to bring home two gold medals, but only managed a silver in the Keirin. These medals have further motivated me to do better in the coming races and it is my aim to bring home that gold medal from the Asian Games 2014 in Korea,” he further added.

National coach, John Beasley was elated with the team’s performances. “Both Azizul and Fatehah have proven to all of us that hard work and focus really pays off. It was just unfortunate that Fatehah was unwell but she pulled through by bringing home that bronze medal for Malaysia,” he said.

“Our first outing here to collect qualifying points for the 2016 Rio Olympics has been successful. We will definitely keep up this momentum and winning streak to ensure our spots in the Olympics are guaranteed,” he added. Next on the cards is the Australia Grand Prix races, which will begin from 14 June in Melbourne, to 29 June in Perth, Australia. The race is to prepare the national cyclists for two major multi-sports meets happening in the second half of this year, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland, and the Asian Games 2014 in Korea.

YSD’s commitment to the two national track cyclists amounts to RM2.85 million for a period of 3.5 years. The support for the 2016 Road to Rio programme is in line with the objectives of the foundation’s Youth & Sports pillar where it supports programmes to develop sports and its talents, ultimately raising the standard of sports in the country.

YSD had previously supported seven Malaysian cyclists through the ‘YSD Track Cycling Team – Quest for Malaysia’s Olympic Cycling Medal’ programme for the 2012 London Olympics with a RM2 million sponsorship over a period of 30 months. From the seven cyclists, Azizul and Fatehah made the cut for the 2012 London Olympics and represented Malaysia in the keirin and sprint events but did not win any medals.

The foundation also sponsors Azizulhasni and Fatehah under its YSD ‘Star’ Scholarship Programme, which offers academic sponsorships to ‘potential stars’ in the field of arts, music, sports, environment and sciences. The scholarship has enabled Azizulhasni to pursue studies in Sports Management at the Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. Fatehah has yet to commence her studies in Business Marketing at the same university.

Apart from cycling, other sports funded under YSD’s Youth & Sports pillar include cricket, sailing, golf, gymnastics, hockey, lawn bowling, swimming, and tennis. YSD’s current pledge to the development of sporting talents in Malaysia includes the support for the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) national men’s and women’s senior hockey teams and Malaysia’s top sailing team, the Sime Darby Foundation-Koo Racing team. YSD also funds the National Cricket Development Plan conducted by the Malay Cricket Association of Malaysia (MCAM) to develop and introduce youths to the game and form elite teams regardless of race, religion and background.



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Last Updated:
28 Nov 2017
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