Azizulhasni Awang, the diminutive Malaysian sprinter renowned for pulling wheelies as he crosses the finish line, is now a household name. Not for reasons of sporting excellence, which the showboater fully deserves, but for leaving the Manchester velodrome with a 20cm shard of the track surface bisecting his calf.
You have probably all seen the photos and YouTube footage by now, so we’ll not bother posting shots of Awang’s leg. Suffice to say, it was by far the most gruesome and bizarre accident I have ever witnessed at close quarters.
The fact that I was stood just a few feet from where he lay, clearly in distress, yet failed to notice a sizable length of Siberian pine protruding either side of his left leg, is puzzling to say the least. There was a barrier in the way, and several helpers assisting the stricken rider, which may explain the oversight. There was also a bizarre Wacky Races scenario being played out on the finish straight, with Jason Niblett and Juan Peralta Gascon running in cleats, fighting tooth-and-nail to be next across the line. The Spaniard forgot his bike in the mayhem and was subsequently relegated. These guys do not know how to give up…
As the mighty Chris Hoy, who was creaming the opposition (crash or no crash), pulled off the track, Awang was stretchered away along the finish straight and the source of his distress became apparent. The crowd rose to applaud. Awang motioned towards his left leg, as if to say that the splinter was a minor hindrance and he would be back tomorrow. In Monty Python terms, just a flesh wound. It was spine-tingling stuff.
Edward Dawkins, meanwhile, receiving attention from a trackside medic, was asked where he felt pain. The Kiwi, missing a section of skin from one shoulder practically equal in size to the massive tattoo covering the other, replied that he was from New Zealand. The question was repeated. So was the answer. “Did you not hear me, mate? I’m from New Zealand. We don’t feel pain.”
The admonishment to fellow cyclists to ‘man up’ when swerving a training session in the rain is now redundant. ‘Awang up’, or ‘Dawkins up’. Either will suffice.
Truly, toughs of the track.