(Updated)

A different Olympics

A different Olympics
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KUALA LUMPUR (March 31): The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives, and Malaysia’s Olympic hopefuls, who have been diligently training, have not been spared from the strict restrictions.

In this week’s issue, Options speaks to the four women divers who have qualified for the Summer Games in Tokyo, telling their story of how they are preparing for the games amid travel restrictions and strict standard operating procedures (SOPs).

As the organisers continue to flesh out constraints and conditions to ensure safety for all competitors from July 23 to Aug 8, the athletes face a unique challenge.

“As long as the training can still go on normally and smoothly and I’m able to get the right support like the sport treatment and recovery I really need, there’s no reason not to be ready for July,” says Pandelela Rinong, who has qualified for the 10m platform individual and synchronised events.

However, she says the delay in the games has affected her mentally, as four years of preparation have exhausted her body and mind, with the added year of waiting compounding the stress and disrupting her plans for 2021.

With qualifying competitions such as the Fina Diving World Series either delayed or cancelled because of the coronavirus and training camps a no go because of the Movement Control Order (MCO), training programmes for divers shifted gear from going for peak performance to just fitness maintenance in the last year.

Nur Dhabitah Sabri, who qualified for the 3m springboard individual in Tokyo, says the lockdown during the MCO was tough as it meant staying out of the pool for months, and the postponement of the Games was worse news.

But these hitches pushed her to train harder and make up for lost time.

She remapped her daily sessions, intent on taking good care of her body with physio and massage sessions.

Meanwhile, Leong Mun Yee says the postponement of the games was like a wave that crashed her plans for the Olympics and after it.

“I was a little bummed at first because I had prepared very long for my fifth outing,” says the Ipoh-born diver who turned 30 last December.

When pool training resumed in June, she appreciated that the Games delay meant more time to prepare as several tournaments leading up to it had been affected by the pandemic.

Disrupted training aside, Wendy Ng Yan Yee, who is up for the individual 3m springboard event in Tokyo, says the pandemic proved to be a blessing for her as it freed up time to complete her sports science course in December.

She had been pursuing it at Universiti Malaya since 2012. With a degree in hand, she can fully focus on her next endeavour — making a splash at her third Olympics.

Read more about their stories in The Edge Malaysia weekly’s March 29 edition.

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