File Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The national athletics squad will start training in track and field in the next few days, but may have to wait until next year to compete in any international tournament.

This is because most major tournaments are only expected to begin next year and the Covid-19 pandemic in other countries does not make it safe enough to travel abroad.

National athletics head coach Mohd Manshahar Abd Jalil said the country’s athletes returning to the training camp yesterday since the movement control order (MCO) was implemented on March 18, would also need about three months to regain their form.

“So most likely, we will only have a domestic tournament in December, before participating in overseas tournaments next year, depending on the Covid-19 situation and the government’s approval. We also have not received any invitation to overseas tournament so far.

“For now, we will focus on conditioning, fitness testing and building physical strength. There is no point in pushing the athletes because there will be no major championships until next year,” he said when contacted by Bernama yesterday.

A total of 24 Podium Programme athletes and 10 back-up athletes have reported to the National Sports Council (NSC) in Bukit Jalil until yesterday, while several more athletes are expected to do so in the near future.

All of these athletes are scheduled to have a swab test tomorrow morning, and will have to wait for the results before starting training at NSC.

Mohd Manshahar reminded that all athletes are required to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by NSC at all times for the safety of all.

“It includes social distancing, temperature checks before training and hygiene. For example, when training on track, they have to keep a lane free between two athletes,” he said.

Several national athletes such as Lee Hup Wei, Nauraj Singh Randhawa, Andre Anura Anuar and Muhammad Hakimi Ismail are in the process of securing slots to the Tokyo Olympic Games rescheduled to July, 2021.

The World Athletics has postponed all Olympic qualifying championships until Nov 30 and announces that the qualifying window will resume on Dec 1, with a deadline set for May 31, 2021 for 50 km walk and marathons; June 29, 2021 for other events. – Bernama