GLASGOW: Malaysia's top cyclist Azizulhasni Awang may not have won a gold at the Commonwealth Games, but he certainly has a heart of gold.
The cyclist has pledged to give away all the medals won at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the coming Incheon Asian Games to be auctioned off - and the money raised be given to charity.
On Sunday, the 26-year-old Azizulhasni, dubbed the Pocket Rocketman, wheeled his way to a bronze in the keirin at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome as the curtain came down on the track competition.
Australia's Matthew Glaetzer powered his way to the gold while New Zealand's Sam Webster pipped Azizul at the last minute to take silver in the six-man final.
"It is a prized bronze medal for me considering the tough field I faced. I will hand over this medal for auction … to raise money for charity," said Azizul, who will receive a RM20,000 incentive from the Government for his bronze-medal effort.
"I come from humble beginnings. Many people have helped me throughout my career and I want to give something back. It is for the people of Malaysia - it doesn't matter what race, religion or colour.
"This charity drive will be done after the Asian Games. I also hope to win medals at the Asiad and give them away for the same purpose."
Asked how he was able to turn himself into one of the top riders in the world, the Terengganu-born cyclist said: "I'm really focused on what I do.
"In Glasgow here, I completely turned off my mobile phone. I only spoke with my wife a few times - just to make sure that they are all okay at home and to wish them Selamat Hari Raya.
"And I don't let my size bother me either. I know there's a huge difference in terms of size - between me and the rest of the field - in the keirin final.
"But I showed that my physique is not a hindrance … what matters is your will power.
"I hope our youngsters will not let this (physical disadvantage) stand in their way from achieving sporting success."
Despite having no gold medals to show for in the track event - with his bronze being the only achievement - Azizul still felt that the national cyclists did generally well.
At the last Games in New Delhi in 2010, the track cyclists enjoyed a haul of 1-1-1.
"All the cyclists performed well. Our coach (John Beasley) said that we have 10 per cent more to improve. It will take a lot of hard work in the next two-and-a-half months to make that 10 per cent progress … but we are ready to raise the bar," said Azizul.
"In the Asiad, we should keep an eye on South Korea, Japan and China. We saw how these teams have improved during the ACC (Asian Cycling Championships) recently.
"Unlike other Asian countries, we have to peak twice - at the Commonwealth Games and the Asiad. This is an additional challenge for us … we have more work ahead of us."
To show their seriousness in getting the job done well, Azizul and his team-mates will not be returning home after the Games. Instead, they will fly off to Germany to prepare for the Asian Games.
They will use Germany as their training base before heading straight to South Korea.
"I'm not going back home to celebrate Hari Raya. For now, I am focused on doing well in the Asian Games," said Azizul, who is the defending champion in the Asiad keirin event.
"Fortunately, my family understands. I will not see them for the next two months but I hope all these sacrifices will be worth it."
If only more of our young athletes can be like Azizul.