Azizulhasni Awang: The Pocket Rocketman blasting off again for Malaysia

IZU, JAPAN - AUGUST 08: Silver medalist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang of Team Malaysia, poses on the podium while holding the flag of his country during the medal ceremony after the Men's Keirin final of the track cycling on day sixteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Velodrome on August 08, 2021 in Izu, Shizuoka, Japan. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
IZU, JAPAN - AUGUST 08: Silver medalist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang of Team Malaysia, poses on the podium while holding the flag of his country during the medal ceremony after the Men's Keirin final of the track cycling on day sixteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Velodrome on August 08, 2021 in Izu, Shizuoka, Japan. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

The Malaysian has added a silver to his historic bronze from Rio 2016 after finishing second in the men's keirin event at Tokyo 2020.

Mohd Azizulhasni Awang is officially an Olympic silver medallist at Tokyo 2020, in 2021.

The 33-year-old crossed the line behind Great Britain’s Jason Kenny in the men’s keirn event to ensure a second-place finish for Malaysia.

Azizulhasni booked his place in the medal race after he finished first in the semi-final ahead of Maximilian Levy of Germany and Harrie Lavreysen of the Netherlands.

Unfortunately for the gold medal hopeful it was a final that was decisively won by Kenny.

The Briton stunned the field when he sprinted clear with three laps remaining to claim his seventh Olympic gold medal. With gold firmly out of Azizulhasni’s sights, the Malaysian rallied hard to ensure the next best prize, silver, was to be his.

With a silver in Tokyo, the man known as the “Pocket Rocketman" is now the proud owner of two Olympic medals.

Azizulhasni won bronze in the men’s keirin at Rio 2016, and in doing so became the first Malaysian ever to win a track cycling medal.

Here is what else you need to know about the superstar cyclist.

How “The Pocket Rocketman” captured the imagination of Malaysia
07:19

Azizul Awang didn't have the typical physique of a track cyclist, but winning an Olympic bronze medal at Rio 2016 altered that bias.

Two-time Olympic medallist and World champion

Azizulhasni's medal is one that will be warmly welcomed back in his native Malaysia; the rider hit the track in Tokyo riding with the full expectations of his nation.

The two-time Malaysian Sportsman of the Year (2009, 2010) has a strong history in World championship cycling. In 2009 the Azizulhasni won silver in the individual sprint at the World Championships, before then going one better in 2017 when he claimed the title in men's keirin at the UCI World Championships.

IZU, JAPAN - AUGUST 08: (L-R) Silver medalist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang of Team Malaysia, gold medalist Jason Kenny of Team Great Britain, and bronze medalist Harrie Lavreysen of Team Netherlands, pose on the podium during the medal ceremony after the Men's Keirin final of the track cycling on day sixteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Velodrome on August 08, 2021 in Izu, Shizuoka, Japan. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
IZU, JAPAN - AUGUST 08: (L-R) Silver medalist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang of Team Malaysia, gold medalist Jason Kenny of Team Great Britain, and bronze medalist Harrie Lavreysen of Team Netherlands, pose on the podium during the medal ceremony after the Men's Keirin final of the track cycling on day sixteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Velodrome on August 08, 2021 in Izu, Shizuoka, Japan. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
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Pocket Rocketman: the story behind the name

Aside from his sprinting prowess there is another reason why Azizulhasni is known as the Pocket Rocketman.

Standing at just 1.68m tall his height is also in part what is referenced by the moniker.

Olympic longevity

Tokyo 2020 marks Azizulhasni's fourth Olympic appearance.

He began cycling at the age of 10 in his hometown of Dungun and decided to pursue a career in cycling at 15 years old.

All his sacrifices paid off: As well as medalling at two Olympic Games, the cycling star has also been given the honour of being Malaysia's flag-bearer for the Opening Ceremony. He led his delegation into the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing 2008.

Cyclist and chef

During the global pandemic, when restrictions confined him and his family to their home in Melbourne, Azizulhasni - aside from staying fit - was able to indulge in his other favourite hobby: cooking.

As well as brushing up on his own culinary skills the cyclist also imparted his knowledge of cooking with his children. He shared with The Star:

"Cooking is an enjoyable pastime for me."

“It was necessary for me to know how to cook simple meals rather than eating out all the time as I have a certain diet to follow depending on my training programme."

“Now I have time to teach my children how to cook and bake things."

Overcoming the worst of injuries

Azizulhasni knows very well the perils that come with track cycling.

The curved shape of the wooden velodrome combined with bikes without breaks can make for a dangerous combination and the Malaysian suffered the consequences of when it all goes terribly wrong.

In 2011, the cyclist was involved in a four-person crash at a World Cup in Manchester, United Kingdom. The fall left him with a 20cm-long splinter lodged right through the centre of his calf muscle.

Remarkably, Azizulhasni remounted his bike and managed to cross line in third place. He was soon after taken away for surgery.

In 2018 a viral infection in his lungs forced him to withdraw from the individual sprint event at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. Recently he underwent microsurgery after losing part of his finger and missed the 2020 Asian Track Championships.