Tokyo-bound athletes driven, determined to excel in the Olympics, says sports minister

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said Malaysian athletes were 'highly driven'. — Bernama pic
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said Malaysian athletes were 'highly driven'. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — All the 30 national athletes who will compete at the July 23-Aug 8 Tokyo Olympics have shown extraordinary enthusiasm to achieve success at the world’s biggest multi-sports Games, said Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

He said their desire to give their best performance could be seen from their preparation and their determination despite facing different kinds of challenges and difficulties following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“So far, they (athletes) are highly driven and determined to do well in Tokyo. Yes, there are mixed feelings, some are nervous and some will be making their Olympic debut.

“Take Azreen (women’s 100-metre sprinter Azreen Nabila Alias), for example, who is competing through the wildcard slot. She is eager to prove that her selection is the right choice and, ultimately, answer many questions that arise.

“It’s the same with the divers and (cyclist Mohd) Azizulhasni (Awang). They have a set of targets to achieve and they feel this is the time despite all the difficulties and hurdles they have gone through. There couldn’t be a better time than this,” he said.

He said this at an online press conference after a virtual meeting with the Tokyo-bound athletes today that was also attended by Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria and chef de mission Datuk Lee Chong Wei.

Malaysia will be represented by 30 athletes in 10 sports at the Tokyo Olympics.

Reezal Merican said although there would be no spectators to cheer them on as the athletes compete under the new norm, it would not stop them from giving 100 per cent.

He also said that diving, cycling and badminton would again be the country’s main medal hopefuls in Tokyo.

“Yet, other sports also have their own strengths. Realistically, the three sports are the brightest prospects to contribute medals just like at the 2016 Rio Olympics,” he added.

Meanwhile, Reezal Merican said he had instructed the National Sports Council (NSC) to arrange a meeting between the athletes and their families before leaving for Tokyo.

“Like it or not, sometimes family is a source of strength for the athletes,” he said. — Bernama

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