Sweat and sacrifices go unnoticed but top athletes plod on with eyes on top prize

ONE often hears of successes or failures of world class athletes but what usually goes unnoticed are the countless hours of hard work they put in and the sacrifices they make.

Not to mention the physical pain, tears over injuries and emotional struggles they deal with behind the scene.

It’s no different with our top athletes who are currently going through their final three weeks of preparation for Tokyo Olympic Games.

Former world keirin champion Azizulhasni Awang is now away from his family in Melbourne. The cyclist is back home with teammate Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom for the final phase training camp in Nilai.

Azizul, known as the “Pocket Rocketman” shared an emotional moment before bidding goodbye to his children. It was a heart-wrenching time as he knows it would take months before he gets to see them again.

Due to traveling restrictions imposed by Australia, Azizul may only get to see them in October.

His state of mind is understandable. The father of two young daughters is very close to his family. His daily life routine in Melbourne is alternated between training and spending time with the family.

But Azizul knows that this is one of the sacrifices that he has to make to get it right in his fourth Olympic Games. He is aiming to end an elusive chase for a gold medal after winning a bronze at the 2016 Rio edition.

“It will not be that easy to return to Australia and the earliest I may see them is after the world championships sometime in October,” said Azizul.

“I’m very close to my daughters as I help them with their homework and we do activities together too.

“All the fatigue from training vanishes when my children dash to greet me when I come home from the velodrome.

“They didn’t want me to leave them for months but I told them that I have a big mission to accomplish for the country.”

For badminton mixed doubles specialist Chan Peng Soon, it’s a case of so close yet so far with his family. The father of four children is unable to see his children too and for now, his handphone is the most important asset as he uses it to connect with his loved ones.

Peng Soon and his partner Goh Liu Ying have been training under a quarantine bubble system along with the rest of the national shuttlers at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara since the third phase of movement control order.

It is his wife May May who is now doubling up as the father to their four children.

So is diver Pandelela Rinong who has not seen her family back in Bau, Sarawak for more than a year because of the Covid-19 situation.

It was especially tough for the Bidayuh lass last year as she even had to skip the Christmas celebration with her family in her hometown – a tradition that she had held proudly until last year.

Hats off to our dedicated athletes Pandelela, Peng Soon, Azizul and the many other equally determined athletes who continue to teach us about perseverance and commitment to achieve goals despite difficult circumstances.

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