Tales of grit

That’s why they’re Olympians: Azizulhasni Awang (left) and Lee Chong Wei rejoicing over their exploits at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

PETALING JAYA: One survived a near-drowning incident. Another suffered a food-poisoning episode.

Both Olympians, elite cyclist Azizulhasni Awang and former national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei, have decided to share one of their painful past experiences to encourage those who are going through a tough spell, to march forward confidently.

The 33-year-old Azizul, who is currently based in Melbourne and preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, said he almost lost his life during a fun swimming escapade near his village in Terengganu during his childhood.

“You know how we are, quite naughty those days. My brother and a few friends of ours decided to go for a swim near a waterfall but disaster struck as I almost drowned, ” said Azizul in his Facebook posting.

“Fortunately, my brother rescued me. He then decided to teach me to swim and my first lesson was to float.

“I was so fearful but my brother told me to relax, stay calm. I could not understand. How can one float and not sink? I was in a state of panic.

“But my brother continued to encourage me, and eventually when I learnt to stay calm... I was able to float.

Azizul said he would always remember this particular scene from the past more as he was caught in a situation where it seemed like there was no way out.

“The world we are living in is like a sea, we have to learn to stay afloat. Many people panic when troubles come their way and sink into their troubles, ” he said.

“I know many are going through difficulties right now. Don’t panic, stay calm. Pray for divine help and eventually, you will be out of whatever afflictions you are going through.”

Chong Wei said he was down with severe food poisoning during the 2015 Perak Open but could not forget the courage shown by his mixed doubles partner Vivian Hoo then.

It was one of the rare occasions when Chong Wei played in the mixed doubles for fun but both surprised everyone to reach the final.

“I had stomach pain on the eve of the final and called my teammates to bring me to the nearest hospital, ” said Chong Wei in his Facebook posting.

Despite being on drips and painkillers, the former world No. 1 did not want to withdraw from the final.

“Vivian called me and sounded worried, ” he said.

“Big bro... please prioritise your health. I will tell the organising committee that we will pull out. There was so much concern in her voice.”

Being the senior player and wanting to be a good role model to her, Chong Wei insisted that he wanted to play on despite the pain, but it was what Vivian said after that blew his mind.

“If you really need to enter the court, please stay in front, let me do the running, I will cover you from the back.”

Chong Wei did get the doctor’s permission to play, and both of them did well to win the mixed doubles title.

Now that the 30-year-old Vivian has been dropped from the national team, Chong Wei wants her to show the same fire that he has seen in her during that Perak Open.

“Big bro here just want to thank you for being a good role model for the team. I’m sure this is not the end because I see there is still fire, talent, skill in you to play good badminton for another three to four years. I believe in you, ” he said.

And Chong Wei hoped that others who are in the same boat, would not give up too.

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