Back to starting line as elite athletes race to get fit

The Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed on March 18 not only adversely affected the fitness of the man in the street, but also that of Malaysia’s top athletes.

Although these national athletes trained on their own when they were confined indoors, the environment and motivation were different.

They remain in good shape but they need to regain their pre-MCO fitness levels.

As such, the National Sports Institute (NSI) is working on plans to ensure these athletes regain their true form ahead of several major competitions next year.

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the world’s sports calendar as competitions were cancelled or postponed.

While athletes have resumed training, with the Road To Tokyo 2020 athletes the first to start on June 1, NSI chief executive officer Ahmad Faedzal Md Ramli said the new plans have been drawn to ensure the athletes are on track for their respective competitions.

“It’s not a problem exclusive to Malaysian athletes but it’s something that affects athletes worldwide. As lockdowns were imposed, athletes were isolated and trained on their own,” said Ahmad Faedzal.

“We monitored our athletes remotely throughout that time but it was different … the environment and motivation were different.”

The national athletes were monitored via Team Builder – a strengthening and conditioning mobile application – which the athletes have been using when they work out at NSI’s gym. Officers from the institute were in touch with the athletes regularly to monitor their physical and mental health.

“We spoke to them as often as possible. The athletes even recorded videos of their training and sent them over to their coaches.”

The major multi-sports events scheduled next year are the SEA Games in Hanoi and Tokyo Olympics followed by the Commonwealth Games (Birmingham, UK). The Asian Games (Hangzhou, China) will be in 2022.

“We have to re-start. In fact, the first six weeks when the athletes resume training is for them to gear up and adjust to their pre-MCO selves.”

“The athletes’ periodisation plans have to be re-evaluated as the aim is to ensure they peak during their respective competitions. The SEA Games, Olympics, Commonwealth and Asian Games are the four major sports events we are looking at.”

Ahmad Faedzal added his officers have already started communicating with new hockey coach A. Arul Selvaraj over his players.

“There have been discussions. There will be new faces and old faces in the team, so we need to monitor their progress and ensure their fitness levels are at optimum,” he added.