Qualifying for and competing at the Olympics, the gold class of all sporting events, is every major sports athlete’s dream. The idea of representing your country, sharing world recognition with other athletes of a similar level on an international stage, and the chance to see your sports idols performing are huge honours that promise a lasting effect.
This Olympics, 30 of Malaysia’s star athletes representing 10 sports will be among the 11,000 soon arriving in Tokyo as Japan pushes ahead with the Games. While this is historic for Malaysia as 60 per cent of the participating Malaysian contingent are females, the Games is set to be an unusual one as the competitors, as well as support staff and media, will be confined by tough and joyless Covid-19 prevention rules.
The road to this Olympics has been long, arduous, and uncertain, with our athletes training under quarantine-like conditions and persevering through tough preparations in the last two years. The hard work is only a prelude to what lies ahead for them at the Games beyond just competitive sports. Our athletes can expect a lot less splendour and celebrations, few spectators if any at all, and with no family members present to offer support.
National artistic gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi tells Tatler Malaysia that her family members are unable to be present at the Olympics, her first-ever Games. Nevertheless, the Gen.T honouree is grateful to be able to compete. “Of course, with the strict SOPs and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it’ll be an experience like never before. I’ll do my best to enjoy myself and compete the best I can.” Farah is only the third Malaysian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics, after Au Li Yen for Sydney 2000 and Ng Shu Wai for Athens 2004.