Malaysian national track cyclist and two-time Olympic medalist Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang is currently recovering in a Melbourne hospital after undergoing open-heart surgery.
The 34-year-old underwent the 3-hour-long surgery on 21 April at the Epworth Richmond Hospital in Melbourne due to a rare heart condition known as anomalous aortic origin of the right coronary artery (AAORCA).
Mohd Azizulhasni said he had first felt chest pains after a crash in 2019 in Brisbane during the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics. A series of examinations including an Echocardiogram (ECG) and CT coronary angiogram returned normal results.
The cyclist said it was when he returned to training after the post-Olympic break last November that he experienced sweating and pain in his chest that felt like a heart attack.
An examination with Melbourne Cardiologist Dr. Barveen Aisha showed unusual ECG readings, and a subsequent MRI scan in December detected Azizulhasni had a rare condition only found in one percent of the population.
The Olympic medalist said “The medical team advised me to do the surgery as soon as possible because it’s a life-threatening situation. My (blood) vessels are clogged and leave only 20 percent of the flow, which is very minimal, furthermore, if I do a high-intensity workout,” adding that following consultations with some of the best cardiac surgeons and senior cardiothoracic consultants, he decided to undergo surgery.
Mohd Azizulhasni is currently recovering from his surgery in Melbourne and says he is unsure about when he might return to training.
The country’s gold medal hopeful at the upcoming Paris Olympics, nicknamed the ‘Pocket Rocketman,’ will miss this year’s Birmingham Commonwealth Games and Hangzhou Asian Games but is hopeful of competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Mohd Azizulhasni was crowned Sportsman of the Year in 2007, 2010, 2017, and again in 2019/2020. He became the country’s first cyclist to win a bronze Olympic medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and a silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.