PETALING JAYA: Life has not been the same for Asian champion Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman since the movement control order (MCO) was introduced last year.
Sports activities, like many other social practices, came to a halt and the rider found himself having to source for other means of income to support his family.
Motor racing riders are heavily dependent on private sponsors for their earnings unlike other sports. For example, athletes under the national training programme can get by with funding from the National Sports Council.
“When there is no race, the funding stops. Our contracts are subject to participation in races and the MCO hit us really hard, ” said the 36-year-old, who was the first winner of the 1000cc Superbike category in the FIM Asian Road Racing Championships (ARRC) in 2019.
Azlan was looking forward to defending his title when the 2020 season started in March.
But after two races the entire season had to be called off because of Covid-19.
“They ended the season because we can’t travel as international borders are closed.
“The last one year really turned my life upside down as I had to find other ways to earn a living, ” said Azlan, who rides for Onexox TKKR.
Azlan started a food business selling ayam penyet but had to stop because he faced difficulty sustaining it after the second phase of the MCO in October.
“I even worked at a factory manufacturing bottled drinks at that time. Now that sports training activities are allowed, I’m doing a bit of private track coaching and selling insurance, ” added Azlan, who raced in the Moto2 world championship from 2013-2015.
Azlan hoped his perseverance despite the difficulties will inspire others to take things in their stride.
“It is also my hope that the authorities are more supportive of the motorsports community.
“We have also made the country proud before and we can do better if there’s more support.”