COVID-stricken Muhammad Haiqal disappointed to miss Almaty action


KUALA LUMPUR – National sprint champion Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi (picture) is disappointed at not being able to compete in the Qosanov Memorial Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan from June 19-20.

Muhammad Haiqal, who tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang on Monday, admitted that all his dream and the hard work he had put in during training with the aim of setting a personal best for the season in Kazakhstan had been shattered after being infected with the virus.

“Maybe there is a blessing in disguise in all this… so, I accept it with an open heart and the test of Allah SWT to me. I don’t know where I was infected with COVID-19 but my condition is good at the moment,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

Another sprinter, Khairul Hafiz Jantan was also barred from going to Kazakhstan after being in close contact with Muhammad Haiqal despite his swab test results being negative for the virus.

Both athletes had undergone training at the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) Johor since the middle of the Ramadan month under the guidance of sprint coach Mohd Poad Md Kassim.

Muhammad Haiqal was set to compete in the 100m (m) event and Khairul Hafiz in the 200m at the Almaty meet.

Their absence means only eight athletes will represent the country at the championships, namely Lee Hup Wei (high jump), Andre Anura Anuar (long jump), Muhammad Hakimi Ismail (triple jump), Connie Chu (discus), Yap Sean Yee (high jump), Jonathan Nyepa (100m), Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian (110m hurdles) and Muhammad Ilham Suhaimi (400m).

Elaborating, Muhammad Haiqal claimed that it was all due to a mistake of his liaison officer who did not check the email on the swab test he did on Monday morning.

Upon arrival at the KLIA, he was shocked after being detained by the auxiliary police when he tested positive for COVID-19 and was ordered to wait outside the airport for up to six hours before being sent back to the National Sports Council (NSC) in Bukit Jalil to undergo quarantine.

Muhammad Haiqal then received a call from the Ministry of Health (MOH) asking him to continue his quarantine at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), where he has been placed since yesterday.

He has requested the National Sports Institute (ISN) to bring him back to the NSC in Bukit Jalil so that he could undergo training in the quarantine room.