SIBU: The decision by the Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF) to put off all competitions until the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is under control goes down well with the Sarikei Selected Athletics Team.
Its manager Liong Shuen Keong concurred that this was the best solution in ensuring the safety and well-being of the athletes, officials, fans and all the stakeholders involved in any competition.
“We all acknowledge that is the best decision albeit with a heavy heart and are sad that Covid-19 pandemic had wrecked such havoc among the sporting activities. We just have to pray that the disease will be contained soonest so that peoples’ lives can return to normal,” he said.
MAF president Datuk S.M. Muthu reportedly said the federation would only start to host competitions upon getting the green light from the Health Ministry even if the Movement Control Order (MCO) to contain the pandemic is lifted on April 28.
Liong said that it was a critical period now and the deadly Covid-19 virus is certainly no joke.
“Even the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is postpone to July next year, what more to say about local and domestic competitions.
The health and safety of the athletes and officials will always be the top priority. We understand this was a difficult decision to make and we look forward to the next competition and are every ready for that,” he added.
He said the Sarikei Selected team, with a stable of throwers, had been looking for a new breakthrough in the Johor Malaysia Games (Sukma) to help the state secure more gold medals.
He said the players had been training real hard and were all eager to go to Sukma before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellations of all sports, hence derailing their ambitions in their quest for the titles.
Those expected to go for the gold medals included Kong Chin Poh in the Men’s shot putt category with a personal best of 15.68m, Ngu Ing Biao in Men’s discus (PB 50.12m) and Grace Wong in Women’s hammer throw (PB 60.99m).
Besides these veterans, Liong said the Sarikei Selected team was also comprised of a few others players such as Ailenna Thipong Laga, Jonah Chang Rigan and Wong Yu Kiong, Wong Yew Ing, Tang Shi Ung and Nelly Tang Mei Ying who are all medals contenders.
“Deep down in the hearts of these athletes, there is this sense of frustration and disappointment. But then, as I say, they have to think more positively and it’s the health of the athletes that matters. Better be safe than sorry,” Liong said.
The team did manage to participate in the Perak Open held in Feb, however that was the only event that went through before the others such as the Malacca Open (Mar) and Selangor Open (June) were called off.
“However, the Sibu Open in September remains undecided. At the moment, the athletes can only train at home and do light conditioning.
“Rest assured, my athletes will be working hard and hitting back with a vengeance when it matters most,” Liong said.