Newly-crowned world keirin champion Azizulhasni Awang denies that there is any friction between him and young cyclist and rising star Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom.
In fact, Azizul recognises Muhammad Shah Firdaus as worthy “sparring partner”, and assured everyone that there is nothing wrong with some healthy competition.
The 29-year-old world champion also noted that 22-year-old Muhammad Shah Firdaus could well be his successor one day, when he retires from cycling.
“Of course, Shah Firdaus is a good sparring partner and at the same time I will try to guide him, directly and indirectly, to get him into shape to take my place. I cannot be cycling forever.” Bernama quoted Azizulhasni Awang as saying.
As athletes from the same sport, Azizulhasni stressed that healthy competition is important, it will keep both of them working hard to consistently deliver the best results, whether during training or in international tournaments.
The concern about Azizulhasni’s relationship with Muhammad Shah Firdaus arose after the latest world rankings placed the world champion at 4th place, while Muhammad Shah Firdaus is perched close behind at 5th place.
“Some people view competitors as their enemy, but I’m not like that. I hope that one day he will outdo me and achieve much more than I did.” he added.
Azizul also reminded everyone about the good relationship he maintained with retired Malaysian professional track cyclist, Josiah Ng.
“Just like the relationship I had with Josiah Ng. We had a healthy competition, but we were also good friends. Until now, we’re still good friends.”
Azizulhasni Awang recently achieved his life-long dream of being crowned world keirin champion after he finished first at the World Cycling championship 2017 in Hong Kong. He also came home with the much-coveted rainbow jersey.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom stole the spotlight back in February after he bagged bronze at the Track Cycling World Cup held in Los Angeles, United States. He also came in third at the Asian Cycling Championship 2017 held in India.