In Part 1 of Prestige Malaysia‘s August 2021 cover story, we hear from Aaron Chia, Syaqiera binti Mashayikh, Wendy Ng Yan Yee, and Farah Ann Abdul Hadi.
Omega has been recording Olympic dreams since 1932. At this historic moment in time, we record the journey of our Malaysian athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics through the lens of Annice Lyn. Extraordinary individuals of great fortitude reveal the sacrifices, challenges, and glory they hope to achieve in their lifetimes.
Read Part 2 here.
Badminton: Men’s Doubles
A father to two young daughters, 24 year old Aaron Chia biggest wish is to make them proud of him. Training from hours to end daily means Aaron has to sacrifice precious family time to face the biggest event in his sporting career. “It is quite a challenge to be away from my family, but it is a minor worry compared to the grand scheme of things. My focus is devoted to the game.”
The shuttler who is paired with Soh Wooi Yik, are currently the world number nine ranked Malaysian pair. The team had won the gold medal at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and in the same year, the pair faced Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan at the All England Open and brought home the silver medal.
Aaron says he owes his victories to the unwavering support received from his fellow Malaysians. “My family and parents definitely support me when I need them to, but I want to really thank all the Malaysian fans who keep giving us their support no matter how we perform.”
Syaqiera binti Mashayikh
Archery: Women’s Individual and Mixed Team
Selected by the National Archery Association of Malaysia (NAAM), Syaqiera Mashayikh represents Malaysia in the women’s individual recurve event and in the mixed team alongside national archery champion Khairul Anuar Mohamad. “I was surprised to be selected for the Tokyo Olympics. Of course, I am overjoyed and consider this opportunity to be a true blessing,” the 21-year-old remarks.
The Tokyo Olympics is Syaqiera’s third international appearance after competing in two tournaments in Paris, France, including Stage 3 of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup and 2021 Archery Final Olympic Qualification Tournament. She recorded 619 points in the qualifiers, cementing her spot in the illustrious sporting event.
Malaysia received a slot to Tokyo when a World Archery review dropped some of the 64 eligible archers that failed to attain the Minimum Qualification Score of 605 for the women’s event.
Although Syaqiera joined the national team only last year, she has navigated the difficulties of the pandemic with grace, focusing on physical training and positive self-talk. “I stay motivated by reminding myself that skills develop over time and experience. I also remember that many people are supporting me, especially my coaches, teammates and family, hopeful for me to win.”
Syaqiera has the honour of being the third female Malaysian archer to ever reach the Olympic stage after Mon Redee Sut Txi (2004) and Nurul Syafiqah Hashim (2012).
Wendy Ng Yan Yee
Diving: Women’s 3m Springboard
Competing in the individual 3m springboard event, 28-year-old Wendy Ng has overcome numerous mental and physical challenges to come this far. Between the pandemic, injuries and shoulder surgery, she feels the burden to perform well is heavy at her third Olympic appearance since competing in London (2012) and Rio (2016).
“I had little time to prepare myself for the comeback from my injuries,” Wendy explains. She admits that although the pandemic added an extra year to be ready, it was challenging to keep up the pace in training and stay in peak condition after losing momentum.
Wendy last took home medals for Malaysia at the 2018 Asian Games in the women’s synchronised 3m springboard and 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the women’s synchronised 3m springboard and women’s 3m springboard.
“I had to protect myself from getting infected by COVID-19 and keep from getting injured during training while isolated in a centralised training facility. Not being free to meet my family did have a big impact on me mentally,” the diver reveals. She found solace in reading and admits that it helped to schedule time for self-care. “When I can, I FaceTime my sister to enjoy the cuteness overload of my precious nephews.”
Accustomed to training overseas and numerous pre-Olympic international competitions, the cancellation of events made it harder for Wendy to find her competition mode.
“Even in these harsh conditions, I’ve managed to complete my daily routines. Although the conditions are not as ideal as before, I am sure that I am ready for the game. It has always been an honour to represent Malaysia, and I certainly hope I can do my nation proud.”
Farah Ann Abdul Hadi
Artistic Gymnastics: Women’s Balance Beam, Women’s Vault, Women’s Floor, Women’s Artistic Individual All-Around, Women’s Uneven Bars
The first and only Malaysian female gymnast to secure a berth for Tokyo 2020, 27 year old Farah Ann Hadi has a keen awareness of the significance of her achievement. “It has been 20 years, and I’m the first woman to qualify for the Olympics. It’s a big step for Malaysian gymnastics, and it is a dream come true to be able to perform and compete as a Malaysian on this stage.”
Farah is only the third Malaysian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics after Au Li Yen (2000) and Ng Shu Wai (2004). Tokyo 2020 is the biggest event of Farah’s sporting career and her first competitive event since the 2019 SEA Games in Manila, Philippines. From 2015 – 2019, the young gymnast has accumulated seven gold medals at the SEA Games, a testament to her ability to capture hearts with technical skill and expressive routines.
She says the big challenge on the road to Tokyo was in trying to make it there. “I did my very best at the qualifiers in Stuttgart in 2019, but then the Olympics were postponed because of COVID-19. Before the postponement was official, there was talk of cancellation. That was very hard for me because I had worked hard for so long to qualify for these games.”
“I have competed for a long time, so I know how it goes, but not being able to perform since the end of 2019 does take a toll. Regardless, I try to maintain a positive attitude.”
Farah is thankful that she is able to enjoy the competition and soak up the feelings of being at the Olympics. “I feel like I’ve already won just by going to Tokyo and performing the best that I can.”
(All images: Annice Lyn/Prestige Malaysia)
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