MANCHESTER, England (AP)—Malaysian cyclist Azizulhasni Awang staggered across the line at the Track World Cup with a bronze medal and a 7.8-inch piece of wood sticking through his left calf.
Awang had surgery Sunday to remove the massive splinter, a day after a crash at the Manchester Velodrome sent it through his leg.
Awang managed to remount his bike after the high-speed crash in Saturday’s Keirin final and stagger across the line to claim a bronze medal.
He was rushed to the hospital but doctors waited until Sunday to carry out the procedure to remove the splinter.
“Operation done. Splinter taken out cleanly,” Awang wrote on his Twitter account. “Thanks for the prayer n support.”
Awang, who is renowned for his trademark wheelie as he crosses the line, has been ruled out of the world championships next month.
“He was in a lot of pain but he’s a really tough kid, all these Keirin riders are,” Malaysia coach John Beasley was quoted as saying on the Daily Telegraph website. “It was decided to leave it overnight to get a specialist surgical team in and scan the injury from all angles to aid the operation.
“The good news is that there doesn’t appear to be much nerve damage, which is your first worry.”
The focus now for the 23-year-old Awang is getting back in shape in time for the 2012 Olympics in London.
“We will take it easy now and travel back to Melbourne, where we are based, next week and take our time with the recovery,” Beasley said. “Another thing to avoid with these injuries is infection after surgery. His season is obviously over so there is no rush—our priority now is to get him right for the Olympics.
“I’ve been involved in cycling a long time and you hear tales of these injuries, riders being speared through the ribs, but that is by far the worst I have seen, although initially I wasn’t aware of it.”
British rider Jason Queally, the Sydney Olympic champion in 2000, now rides only against the clock—rather than elbow-to-elbow races—after crashing at an Edinburgh track in 1996 and being pierced by an 18-inch piece of wood.