Life of a Malaysian Olympian

By Ahmed Wafi

Coping with the Olympics postponement, COVID-19 and more with Nur Dhabitah Sabri.

At 21, Nur Dhabitah Sabri has already amassed gold medals from various international competitions including three at the SEA Games, two at the Asian Diving Cup, a silver and two bronze medals at the Asian Games, three bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games, and the list goes on.

But like many other athletes, her dream is to bring home a gold medal at the world’s biggest sporting stage. She was a step closer to reaching that goal after clinching two gold medals in the 2019 Asian Diving Cup in the women’s three-metre springboard and mixed three-metre springboard event with partner Mohd Syafiq Puteh, engraving her name into the 2020 Malaysian Olympic contingent.

Despite COVID and the everything else that 2020 brought to the table, she still has her signature smile on.

2020 will be the first time we see the games being postponed. Prior to this, the Olympics had been cancelled only three times in its history, the last being in 1944, in London, due to WWII.

At the time of writing, the 2020 games is scheduled to take place on 23 July 2021 “with or without COVID” according to John Coates, VP of the International Olympic Committee.

Dhabitah sees the cancellation as a blessing in disguise. “This gives us more time to train and get better at what we do while also recovering from the injuries we’ve sustained throughout training camp. Despite the initial shock, team morale has been very positive! Every one of us have accepted it with an open heart and we continue to support each other every day,” she says.

Dhabitah first stepped on the springboard thanks to her father. “My father put me into diving after reading an article about it. Pandelela Rinong was a rising star at the time. I fell in love with the sport when I won my first medal at 9 in SUKMA Terengganu 2008,” shares Dhabitah.

Through hard work, Dhabitah was on the same Olympic team as idol turn teammate Pandelela at the Rio Olympics which saw Pandelela collect a historic silver medal with partner Cheong Jun Hoong.

That was her first taste of the Olympics at just 17 while she was studying for her SPM! “I was in China for a training camp from the start of the year until it was time to fly to Rio. There were still about three to four months before the exams. My high school friends helped out a lot! We’d have study groups every day,” she recalls.

The grind never ends. “All we do is eat, sleep, train and repeat,” says Dhabitah. “We train every weekday for six hours. On Saturdays, we have half-day training sessions and full rest days on Sundays. On rest days, I like to chill in my room, playing games and watching movies all day, recharging myself for the training sessions coming up the next day!” she explains.

Her advice to young athletes? “Do what your heart tells you and don’t let negativity bring you down. Make sure the things you’re doing are good and can change your life to be someone better.”

All the best, Dhabitah!

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