Com­bin­ing brains and brawn

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By RE­BECCA RAJAENDRAM ed­u­cate@thes­tar.com.my

Na­tional ath­letes sac­ri­ficed their time com­pet­ing for the coun­try know­ing that their stud­ies would be de­layed.

IT’S been a long jour­ney for the na­tional ath­letes who extended their stud­ies by an­other year so they could com­pete in the in­ter­na­tional arena.

The 15 ath­letes from Univer­siti Pu­tra Malaysia (UPM) re­ceived their scrolls dur­ing the univer­sity’s 42nd con­vo­ca­tion cer­e­mony re­cently.

For na­tional pole vaulter Chuah Yu Tian, 25, the ef­fort has not been wasted as she grad­u­ated with a CGPA of 3.5 with a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence ma­jor­ing in Petroleum Chem­istry.

She extended her course in or­der to com­pete in the 2017 SEA Games, where she won the sil­ver medal.

Her idol and na­tional pole vaulter Roslinda Samsu grad­u­ated from UPM af­ter al­most nine years.

“It’s not easy see­ing all your friends grad­u­ate. I was a bit slower than them,” she laments, adding that she did full cred­its for the first three years.

It was tough to bal­ance study­ing and train­ing, she adds, as she needed to at­tend train­ing in Bukit Jalil every day. Af­ter fin­ish­ing her classes in the morn­ing, she headed for train­ing un­til 7pm and re­turned to her hos­tel on cam­pus by 9pm to fin­ish her aca­demic work.

She says she can work in the oil and gas field if she quits ath­let­ics. She will now fo­cus on her train­ing as she plans on com­pet­ing in the next SEA Games to beat her per­sonal best of 3.8m.

Like­wise, na­tional net­ball team cap­tain Nursyafa­zliyana Mohd Ali, 25, also has no re­grets ex­tend­ing her course by a year.

The Bach­e­lor in Ed­u­ca­tion grad­u­ate who ma­jored in Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion, says this is be­cause she com­peted at the re­cent 2017 SEA Games, with the team win­ning the gold medal.

This, she adds, was the first time in 16 years Malaysia won the gold medal in the sport.

Nursyafa­zliyana ex­plains that she had to post­pone her prac­ti­cal train­ing at SMK Bukit Jalil where she taught Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion to stu­dents in Forms Two, Three and Four.

Her “celebrity sta­tus” fol­lowed her to the school where, she says, the stu­dents were ea­ger to pick up net­ball skills from her.

“I fo­cus 100% dur­ing train­ing and when I’m in class or lec­tures. This way, I don’t have to do a lot of re­vi­sion be­cause I can ab­sorb what is said in class,” she says, adding that her CGPA is 3.4.

Her strat­egy worked as she re­ceived the Ra­zlan Pu­tra medal for her aca­demic and ath­letic ex­cel­lence.

Nursyafa­zliyana will most likely con­tinue with a Master’s in sports sci­ence.

Me­laka na­tive Muham­mad Er­wan Ber­han says his foot­ball skills were first no­ticed when he was in Form Six.

“I con­tin­ued play­ing foot­ball when I en­tered UPM for my Bach­e­lor in Ed­u­ca­tion (Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion).”

En­rolling in this course was a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for him as he stud­ied sports sci­ence in Form Six.

“It was hard to jug­gle be­tween study­ing and train­ing but if we man­age our time prop­erly, we can do it.

“I also had to make sure I got enough rest as it is im­por­tant for ath­letes,” he adds the 25-year-old who was part of the Malaysian team sent to the 29th World Univer­sity Games in Taipei last year.

Muham­mad Er­wan says that he has re­ceived of­fers from sev­eral uni­ver­si­ties to pur­sue his Master’s and play foot­ball for them, but he is still con­sid­er­ing his op­tions.

“While I’m still young, I want to fo­cus on foot­ball but when I’m older, maybe I will be­come a teacher.”

Long dis­tance run­ner Ahmad Luth Hamizan, who rep­re­sented Malaysia in the SEA Games in 2011, 2015 and 2017, also re­ceived his scroll with the other ath­letes at the cer­e­mony.

“I’m proud that I have grad­u­ated,” he adds.

When it comes to keeping up with his train­ing and stud­ies, the 26-year-old ex­plains that it is all up to willpower. “Long dis­tance run- ning re­quires daily train­ing and com­mit­ment,” he says.

He is thank­ful to his fam­ily, UPM and the Na­tional Sports Coun­cil, for his aca­demic and ath­letic suc­cess.

He is now pur­su­ing his Master’s in Sports Sci­ence at the same univer­sity.

Ahmad Luth plans to com­pete in the 2019 SEA Games in the Philip­pines and the 2020 Olympics.

Nur Nadira Natalia Mohd Man­sha­har, 25, never con­sid­ered play­ing women’s rugby un­til she en­tered UPM. Now, the Bach­e­lor in Ed­u­ca­tion grad­u­ate who ma­jored in Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion, has com­pleted her stud­ies. She has been part of the Malaysia women’s team in the in­ter­na­tional arena by com­pet­ing in the Asia Rugby Sev­ens Tro­phy 2018 in Brunei.

“I want to be­come a rugby coach now that I have fin­ished my stud­ies,” she says.

UPM vice-chan­cel­lor Prof Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris who con­grat­u­lated the ath­letes, says they ex­celled both in aca­demics and sports at the high­est level.

“Th­ese ath­letes have be­come am­bas­sadors not only for sports­men but for the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion to ex­cel in multi-do­mains,” she says.

Prof Aini says the ath­letes are a spe­cial group, who sac­ri­ficed their time com­pet­ing for the coun­try know­ing that their stud­ies would be de­layed. A to­tal of 6,973 grad­u­ates re­ceived their scrolls.

Prof Aini (third from left) shares a light mo­ment with Chuah (third from right) and (from left) Muham­mad Er­wan, Ahmad Luth, Nursyafa­zliyana and Nur Nadira at the UPM con­vo­ca­tion cer­e­mony.

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