Azizul, Shah Firdaus in ‘quarantine centre’ before final lap of prep

Safe distance: Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican waving at national track cyclists Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom (top) and Azizulhasnni Awang who are quarantined after returning from Melbourne at the Malaysia Paralympic Sports Excellence Centre in Kampung Pandan.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia Paralympic Sports Excellence Centre in Kampung Pandan has been turned into a quarantine centre for athletes returning from overseas with Olympics medal hopes Azizulhasni Awang and Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom the first two to be placed there.

The two national track cyclists returned from Melbourne on Monday where they will go through the final lap of preparation for the Tokyo Olympics at the National Velodrome in Nilai.

But first, the duo need to finish a compulsory 14-day quarantine as required under the movement control order (MCO) rules.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, who paid a visit to the centre, said it is important to ensure the Tokyo-bound athletes for Olympics and Paralympics can continue to keep themselves fit during the quarantine period.

Tokyo will host the Olympics from July 23-Aug 8 and then the Paralympics from Aug 4-Sept 5.

“The Youth and Sports Ministry through the National Sports Council (NSC) and National Sports Institute (NSI) have restructured the centralised training for quarantine programme at Kampung Pandan centre, ” said Reezal.

“It will now house the athletes who return from overseas and are involved in the preparations for the Olympics and the Paralympics.

“There are less than 50 days to go before the Olympics and less than 80 days before the Paralympics, so it is important our athletes remain in good shape and be able to maintain their fitness despite staying in quarantine.

“I have checked on Azizul and Shah Firdaus. They remain in high spirits although they looked tired after the journey.

“We have a team from NSC and NSI monitoring the athletes at Kampung Pandan centre as required by the Health Ministry.”

Also undergoing quarantine together with the cyclists are their coach John Beasley.

Azizul will be making a record fourth Olympics appearance and is looking to improve on the bronze he won in the keirin at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

It will be the maiden Olympic outing for Shah Firdaus who, like Azizul, has also qualified to race in the keirin and individual sprint.

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