Pedal to the metal: One final shot at gold to lift gloom enveloping Malaysia

The Tokyo Olympics has been a welcome distraction for many Malaysians still working from home, even though the country has yet to strike gold.

The Olympics coverage is a lifeline for my friends who have been glued to the idiot box for the past two weeks.

They have been cooped up at home due to the Movement Control Order (MCO), and said watching the world’s best athletes compete, brought them some sliver of joy.

The common refrain is: “At least there is some respite from all the craziness that’s happening around us. I would go bonkers if I had only the news to watch.”

With the nation shrouded in political uncertainty and the horrifying number of new Covid-19 cases daily, two national cyclists can help lift the gloom and give us a reason to smile.

Datuk Azizulhasni Awang and Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom compete in the keirin event, which starts today.

They, and Kelly Tan in women’s golf, are the only remaining Malaysians still in action.

Tan, however, is out of medal contention.

Five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Azizulhasni created history by winning bronze in this event. A year later, the Terengganu lad became the world champion in Hong Kong.

Firdaus has the potential to win a medal of any colour at the Izu Velodrome, but it is Azizulhasni who is among the favourites in Japan.

After a poor outing in Tokyo, any medal would do, although what we really want is gold, and to finally hear the Negaraku being played at the Olympiad.

To date, Malaysia only has one bronze medal from the Tokyo Olympics – from shuttlers Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik in the badminton men’s doubles event.

If that is how it ends, it represents the country’s worst return since the Athens Games in 2004, when we finished empty-handed.

For the record, Malaysia won one silver in China in 2008, silver and bronze in the 2012 London edition, and four silver and a bronze in 2016.

This year’s result represents a massive letdown, but it was expected, given how Covid-19 had affected sporting events.

Anyway, for those keeping score, today is Day 508 since the start of the original MCO, and this is the 61st weekly edition of ‘The MCO Diaries’.

NOTHING LEFT TO SAY AS WE TOP 10,000 DEATHS

It is getting harder to compile the Covid-19 numbers each week without feeling frustrated or depressed.

Things seem to be getting worse, despite the stringent standard operating procedures in place. Now, the authorities are thinking of relaxing the SOPs for those who have been fully vaccinated.

It feels like the wrong time to be doing so. Unfortunately, many businesses are dying because of the lockdown, and as such, it has to be done.

All we can do is to be mindful of our surroundings, and don’t try to be a hero by going out without a face mask or two.

Here are the numbers that are likely to keep many awake at night.

We had a record-breaking week on all three fronts – new cases, deaths and recoveries.

In the past week, we had a staggering 129,109 new cases. That made it 1,224,595 infections since the start of the pandemic.

We also lost another 1,320 patients, which brought the total number of fatalities beyond the 10,000 mark on Thursday. As of yesterday, that total was 10,179.

Yesterday was also the 12th consecutive day that fatalities were in the hundreds, with the 257 we lost on Wednesday, the highest in a single day.

The good news was that 90,099 patients were cured of the disease in the last seven days, making it 993,020 patients, or 81.09 per cent, who had beaten the virus.

Worldwide, there are 201.9 million cases and 4.28 million deaths.

MEMORIES FROM SCHOOL

FOR THE NEXT HOLIDAY

With the next school holidays a month away, here are 50 fun arts and crafts ideas you can do at home.

TWO BOYS CLEAN ON THE GO

Are you worried about going to the laundrette because of Covid-19? Here’s a service by Two Boys Laundry, a premium dry cleaning and laundry service based in Kuala Lumpur that could solve your problems.

Pickup and delivery are free.

RTD GRACE PERIOD ENDS SEPT 30

The leeway given by the Road Transport Department (RTD) to those who have not renewed their licences due to the MCO, ends on Sept 30.

RTD enforcement officers will be conducting checks on vehicles from Oct 1. You can renew your licences through the MySikap or MyEG portals.

CHOCOLATY GINGER GOODNESS

You can always count on the Domestic Goddess to deliver something sumptuous. And Nigella Lawson’s chocolate gingerbread hits the spot.

Give it a try.

CHARIOTS OF FIRE

The theme from Chariots of Fire by Vangelis (real name Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassíou) is probably the most famous tune associated with the Olympics.

It closes out this week’s column.

Until next week, stay safe.

https://youtu.be/CSav51fVlKU

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