RIO DE JANEIRO – The Malaysian athletes are in buoyant mood in the Games Village
despite some of them have been here longer than others before their actual
competition begins at the Rio Olympic Games here.
The athlete who has been the longest around is sailor Khairulnizam Mohd
Afendy after he arrived here on July 12 while the first Malaysian woman sailor
to the Olympics, Nur Shazrin Mohd Latif arrived on July 24.
The sailing events only start on Aug 14.
The cycling duo of Mohd Azizulhasni Awang and female cyclist Fatehah Mustapa
only arrived here today after a month-long training stint in Portugal.
Where fatigue can creep in especially with expectation thrown in as well,
the 32 athletes are taking their challenge in high spirits.
Khairulnizam, making his second Olympic appearance after the London’s
edition in 2012, when asked how he felt being in training and staying away from
home for a long time, merely threw in a big smile.
“To be a champion, you need to make sacrifices,” he said.
He said the home comfort, friends and family was something that was missing
when away for a long period of time.
“I can’t deny that I miss my mother’s cooking and the Malaysian taste…It’s
something you can’t get it here,” he said.
Although at the international games and Olympics, you are spoiled for
choices, you can never get the same teh-tarik or nasi lemak like in Malaysia,”
said the 23-year-old sailor whose father, Mohd Afendy Abdullah is the team’s
On the other hand, chef-de-mission, Tan Sri Muhammad Al Amin Abdul Majid,
said the athletes’ spirit was high in the camp but athletes missed the familiar
“We can’t bring our own cook here as this is Olympics,” he said.
Coming early to Rio, he said, was a wise decision as the athletes had now
got over the jet-lag and acclimatised with the weather and the venues’
He said the camaraderie among the athletes was excellent and good spirit
prevailed in the camp as each athlete was focused with their mission to bring
honours to the country.
Al Amin said the athletes had their own communication channel to keep in
touch with their family and friends back home and that had somehow taken the
pressure of ‘missing home’ feelings.
“They contact their loved ones through all forms of social media and skype,”
He said Datuk Lee Chong Wei, the national badminton icon, is like a big
brother for the others as he cheered them up and gave them confidence and
“Every athlete likes to be with Chong Wei, jokes with him and takes selfie
with him and on the other hand, the shuttler is friendly and lends an ear to
them,” he added.