TOKYO, Aug 6 ― With only one medal in the bag, so far, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics already at the tail end, the national contingent could do with a touch of magic from track cycling ace Datuk Azizulhasni Awang tomorrow.
In fact, Malaysian fans will also be hoping for an energetic show from Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom to help contribute two more medals when he and Azizulhasni compete in the keirin event on the penultimate day of the world’s biggest multi-sports Games here and meet the contingent’s three-medal target.
So far, Malaysia have only won one medal at the Tokyo Olympics — a bronze by shuttlers Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik in men’s doubles.
Hopes of the two cyclists adding to the medal tally when they took part in the sprint event yesterday were dashed when they failed to get past the 1/8 Finals.
But now all Malaysians will be praying that they can come back stronger and faster in the keirin event, which begins tomorrow.
Azizulhasni, the 2017 keirin world champion and 2016 Rio Olympics keirin bronze medallist, is surely the best bet to deliver a medal in his pet event.
The 33-year-old, who is making his fourth Olympic appearance, is not only a medal prospect but also targeted to win Malaysia’s first-ever Olympic gold medal at the Games here.
Muhammad Shah Firdaus cannot be discounted either. After several eye-catching performances in several tournaments where he even upstaged his senior Azizulhasni, the 26-year-old rider is also being counted on to deliver a medal here.
Azizulhasni and Muhammad Shah Firdaus will compete in the keirin first round at 3.48pm local time (2.48pm Malaysian time) at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka, about 175 kilometres from here, tomorrow.
If they get past the first round, they will then move into the quarter-finals on Sunday (August 8), when the semi-finals and final will also be held.
Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican hopes that Azizulhasni and Muhammad Shah Firdaus can deliver some good news for the national contingent when they compete in the keirin event.
“Yesterday, I had a chat with Azizulhasni and Muhammad Shah Firdaus. They are still very determined to win medals for the country.
“I don’t want to keep saying we will win medals. Honestly, I’d rather pray now. Anything can happen. Things can go north, things can go south. We pray for the best for both of them,” he said. — Bernama