The Tokyo Olympic Games are currently in full swing!
Despite the raging pandemic, 30 Malaysian athletes are competing, or have already competed in 27 events across 10 sports, hoping to clinch some medals for the country. Amongst these dedicated athletes include Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, Lee Zii Jia, Leong Mun Yee and Nur Dhabitah.
As these athletes put in everything they have and compete in the most prestigious global sporting event, it is our job as fellow Malaysians to recognise their stories, struggles and sacrifices, and their years of blood, sweat and tears, regardless of whether they win or not.
Our Malaysian athletes live and breathe to represent our nation’s sporting heritage, one can only imagine the surmounting pressure that they experience and endure. We look back at their stories, filled with pride and appreciation for how far they have come and all that they have managed to accomplish. Some of you may even find inspiration to follow in their footsteps!
Malaysian Artistic Gymnast
Farah Ann Abdul Hadi is our 26-year-old artistic gymnast. She constantly displays a transfixing blend of strength, physical agility, and stamina. Taking part in the Olympics this year, was a highlight in Farah’s 23-year-long career. She has dreamed of this moment. By the time she was 7, she already showed tremendous dedication and commitment to the craft, training six days a week. She started representing Malaysia at the age of 10 and has accomplished great things since then. I mean, just look at her now! Farah is the first Malaysian gymnast who has qualified for the Olympic Games, after 17 long years. However, her journey has not been an easy one, she has dealt with mental blocks, criticism, injuries, online harassment, and training challenges. Despite the ups and downs, Farah has persevered, and all her hard work is paying off!
Malaysian Badminton Player
At the age of 13, three years after he started playing, Lee Zii Jia became a professional badminton player. Not only has Malaysia pinned its hopes on him to bring home an Olympic gold medal this year, but he is also said to be Dato’ Lee Chong Wei’s successor. Though he has respectfully said that he would like to be his own man and forge a name for himself. The 23-year-old has excelled through state and national ranks, becoming Malaysia’s top shuttler. Despite his impressive accomplishments and recognition, Lee Zii Jia has stated that he is just at the start of his journey and does not want to get side-tracked by fame. He intends to train and focus on his performance. Like most athletes, his dream is to become an Olympic champion. He did not bring home a medal this time, but he sure has won our hearts!
This is Leong Mun Yee’s fifth Olympic appearance and unfortunately it will be her swansong. The 36-year-old first developed her passion for diving at the age of 10 and 23 years ago, at the tender age of 13, she first put Malaysia on the world diving map. Her first appearance in the Olympics was at the age of 15. Mun Yee is also the first Malaysian female athlete to qualify for four Olympic games, landing her a spot in the Malaysian Book of Records. Throughout her career, she has participated in many competitions both locally and internationally and has truly garnered successes. She believes in perseverance, dedication and passion, a philosophy that has gotten her this far. As she is retiring soon, Mun Yee plans to set up an academy to facilitate and train up-and-coming divers, so that she is still, in a way, contributing to the sport and the country.
Malaysian Springboard Diver
Nur Dhabitah Sabri is our 22-year-old springboard diver, who is among the four divers that qualified for the Olympics this year. After her debut in Rio 2016, this was the athlete’s second appearance at the Olympic Games. Dhabitah started her aquatic exposure in local swimming clubs, where she participated in swimming competitions. However, due to her small frame, her father convinced her to pursue diving instead. In 2012, she was known as Malaysia’s youngest diver to win at a senior international competition, held in Singapore. The diver’s impressive career took flight after this event. In the 2016 Olympics, Dhabitah and Cheong Jun Hong were in the bronze medal position for the 3m synchronised springboard. Unfortunately, due to a costly mistake, they finished in fifth place. This Olympics, despite her best efforts, Dhabitah narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing in fourth place. Still, we are proud of our young diver for coming so close. As she appears to be making her way up the ladder, we are sure that she will make a splash at the next Olympic Games, accomplishing her dream of winning a medal.
There is nothing easy about being an athlete. As the Olympic Games are under way, let us cheer on and respect our Malaysian athletes who are doing everything they can to make Malaysia proud.
“If we dare to win, we should also dare to lose.” -Lee Chong Wei