National sprinter Maizurah Abdul Rahim during a recent training session at the Anthony Abell College (AAC) track in Seria. Courtesy of Maizurah Abdul Rahim
National sprinter Md Fakhri Ismail (R) prior to the 100m heats at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing as Jamaica’s six-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt (L) gestures to a camera at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, China, on Aug 22, 2015. AP
TWO national athletes are making full use of the allowance awarded to them by the International Olympic Council (IOC) through the Olympic Solidarity Programme.
National sprinters Md Fakhri Ismail and Maizurah Abdul Rahim – as well as national swimmer Tiara Shahril Anwar – were awarded Rio 2016 Olympics scholarships last November and are poised to compete in the Olympics which start in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug 5.
The trio have received US$1,000 every month starting from November, with the grant ending a month before the Olympics start in July.
This is only the second time Bruneian athletes have been awarded Olympic Games scholarships, with the first at the last edition of the Games in London in 2012 when they were given to national swimmer Anderson Lim Chee Wei and 400m specialist Maziah Mahusin – who became Brunei’s first female Olympian.
National 50m freestyle record holder Tiara, who is studying in the United States, could not be reached for this story. “I’m really happy to be receiving the allowance as it gives me more motivation to work harder,” said Fakhri, who set the national 100m record of 10.59 seconds at last year’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. “Training takes a lot out of me, so this allowance allows me to buy the required supplements and training gear - so I am really grateful for it.
“I will also be using the money to fund myself to compete in a few open athletics competitions in the region such as the Singapore Open and the Philippines Open. “Hopefully, it will prepare me better for the Olympics,” continued the sprinter who raced alongside Jamaica’s six-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt during the heats of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing last August.
The 2016 Philippine National Open Invitational Athletic Championships will take place from April 7 to 9 while the Singapore Open Track and Field tournament is scheduled from April 26 to 30. Meanwhile Maizurah, a 200m silver medalist in the girl’s junior category at last October’s 5th Brunei Track and Field Open Championship, is using the allowance to participate in overseas competitions and purchase training necessities.
“The allowance really does help me a lot as it enables me to buy vitamins, supplements and training gear,” said the 16-year old sprinter. “Most importantly, I will also be using the money to finance my trips to a few open competitions in the region,” she continued.
Brunei Darussalam Athletics Federation’s general secretary Siti Aida Tawang said the federation is monitoring their expenses. “We are watching how they spend the money and are making sure they are using it for their preparations,” she said. “The federation is also making sure that the supplements they bought are verified by the officials from Sports Medicine and Research Centre (SMRC) at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.
“We are also getting their feedback and will give it to the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC),” she concluded.