SYDNEY: The majestic Dunc Gray Velodrome was awfully quiet but the crisp, cool voice of cyclist Azizulhasni Awang broke the silence on a cold Sunday morning.
Clad in a casual body-hugging T-shirt, Azizul cheerfully addressed a group of Malaysian journalists, speaking with a slight Australian accent.
There was certainly a notable change in style and demeanour. The lad from Dungun had transformed from a shy kampung boy to a confident young man with a relatively good command of English.
But other than that, Azizul seems to be the same person he was when he moved his training base to Melbourne three years ago in pursuit for Olympic glory – humble and down to earth.
That Sunday, Azizul had travelled north to Sydney for his induction into Visa’s exclusive team of world class athletes, joining the ranks of record gold-medal winning swimmer Michael Phelps, pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and shot putter Valerie Adams.
The three-time World Cup keirin champion’s inclusion in Team Visa was a timely boost just weeks before the London Olympics and Azizul was, naturally, appreciative of the honour.