Sarawak welcomes decision to allow Olympics training to resume

Abdul Karim (right) with his deputy Datuk Snowdan Lawan at the press conference.

KUCHING, May 21: The Ministry of Youth and Sports Sarawak welcomes the federal government’s decision to allow athletes under the Road to Tokyo (RTT) programme to resume training on June 1.

Its minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the decision will allow the athletes to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics which has been rescheduled to July 23 next year and the Paralympics on August 24 next year.

“This is also good news for our Sarawakian athletes who will be representing Malaysia in the Olympics and hopefully the decision will gradually be extended to those who will be representing the country for coming major events.

“There are many Sarawakian athletes who have also been selected and shortlisted for the coming 31st South East Asian Games to be held in Vietnam on November 21 to December 2 next year and also the 2022 Asian Games which will held in Hangzhou, China,” Abdul Karim revealed at a press conference here today.

National diving queen Pandelela Rinong Pamg has already confirmed her participation in the coming Tokyo Olympics while the reigning Malaysia Games (Sukma) 10m platform synchro gold medallist 20-year-old Kimberley Bong is still fighting for a qualifying spot together with national swimmer, Welson Sim.

Abdul Karim added that the list of Sarawakian athletes who are expected to be included in the national squad for next year’s 31st SEA Games in Vietnam are former Taekwondo (Pomsea) gold medallist Nurul Hidayah Abdul Karim, sprinters Jonathan Nyipa and Nixon Kennedy, and Grace Wong and Jackie Wong (hammer throw).

Those who are expected to represent Malaysia in the 2022 Asian Games in China are Welson Sim (swimming), Ashley Lau (golf), Bibiana Ng (shooting), Alice Chang and Karen Dick Lyne (table tennis), Audrey Chan and Loh Jack Chang (wushu) and Fazzilla Sylvester (women’s hockey).

However, Abdul Karim pointed out that the list is not finalised and there may be changes to the line-up of athletes from Sarawak who may be included because the selection process by the National Sports Council (NSC) is still ongoing.

“The decision to allow the Olympics-bound athletes will also boost their morale and motivate them further because throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) they were forced to be confined to training on their own and at home but now they are allowed to undergo centralised training using a quarantined-based approach.

“Apart from the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil, the national athletes are allowed to train at the National Badminton Academy in Bukit Kiara and National Sailing Centre in Langkawi,” he added.

Abdul Karim also lauded the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which was introduced and will be enforced by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports that required athletes, their officials and other personnel to undergo swab tests for Covid-19 before they report for training.

As for Sarawak, he said the state is still abiding with current restrictions imposed by the federal government with regards to the reopening of sports complexes and gymnasiums which are out of bounds for local athletes.

Thus, Sarawakian athlete training is still confined to homes and the ministry will continue to monitor the situation and follow the latest guidelines given by the federal government.

He added that the state government through his ministry as well as Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) and Sarawak State Sports Council (MSN Sarawak) are assisting local athletes by monitoring their welfare and training throughout the MCO period.

The local athletes’ preparation is still ongoing but in the ‘new normal’ approach whereby the athletes are undergoing training at home with guidance from their coaches online. — DayakDaily