PETALING JAYA: No matter how big or small, the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly had an impact on our lives and bowler Rafiq Ismail is no exception.
The 23-year-old has gone more than 16 months without a competition and it looks like things are not about to change any time soon.
The deadly virus not only prevented the reigning world champion and Asian Games gold medallist from pursuing further glory, it has also affected his income.
But Rafiq isn’t just going to sit down as he is willing to accept the risks and roll with the punches.
He is making use of his time by selling sports accessories as well as helping out with his family’s food and beverage business.
“All of us are affected in different ways by the pandemic, we just have to embrace the challenges, ” said Rafiq.
“For a competitive athlete like me, going nearly two years without a single tournament is just too hard to take.
“It’s really frustrating but rather than dwelling on it, I prefer to move on.
“Timmy (Tan) and (Ahmad) Muaz and I have started our own business selling Kinesiology tape (an improved version of elastic sports tape that acts to dynamically assist muscle function).
“At the same time, I’m also helping my parents with their food business, something I didn’t have the time to do before due to my hectic schedule.
“With Hari Raya around the corner, I’m now promoting my family’s rendang, made from my dad’s secret recipe.
“My small businesses aren’t earning me big bucks. It’s just enough to supplement my income.
“I’m grateful that we still receive our monthly allowances from the National Sports Council.
“We used to earn more through tournament prize monies and performance incentives from major events. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from this pandemic is we should not take things for granted.”
After a brilliant 2018 that saw him become the world and Asian Games champion, Rafiq went on to rack up six titles the following year.
In July, he won four international titles on the trot – the Singapore Open, EBT Masters in Spain, Hong Kong Open and ABF Tours (Hong Kong leg) – before helping Malaysia claim the trios gold at the ATBC in Kuwait in November and the team gold at the Philippines SEA Games in December.