Asian golfers could lose out if Olympics go ahead: Tour chief

Cho Minn Thant
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Updated 20 March 2020

Asian golfers could lose out if Olympics go ahead: Tour chief

  • Asian Tour Commissioner and CEO Cho Minn Thant confirmed that all tournaments across the continent had been suspended until at least the end of May

HONG KONG: The Olympics going ahead in Tokyo this year is “highly unlikely,” the boss of Asian golf told AFP, and proceeding as planned could cost players the chance to qualify.

The International Olympic Committee said this week it was “fully committed” to holding the Games from July 24 despite the coronavirus pandemic, but acknowledged there was no “ideal” solution as pressure mounted for a postponement.

Asian Tour Commissioner and CEO Cho Minn Thant confirmed that all tournaments across the continent had been suspended until at least the end of May, in line with the US PGA and European Tours.

“I think everyone right now is more in a state of shock, just trying to figure out what they do with themselves,” said Cho, speaking by telephone from Asian Tour headquarters in Singapore.

With the prospect of scarcely any competitive golf before the Olympic rankings qualifying cut-off on June 22, Cho said it would be harsh on players from unheralded golf nations.

“Our plan initially was to have about 16 or 17 tournaments before the Olympic cut-off,” Cho said. “Today, we probably have only about four or five Asian Tour players eligible for the Olympics.”

On current rankings, only Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and Gunn Charoenkul, the Indian pair of Rashid Khan and Udayan Mane plus Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines would represent the Asian Tour in the 60-strong Tokyo field.

“Given the amount of golf that was left to be played, we were hopeful that more players from nations like Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines would have the opportunity to get into the Olympics over the next two or three months,” said Cho.

“Obviously, that’s not going to happen.

“I can understand why they would want to push forward with the Olympics — there would be huge revenue ramifications on the economy of Japan — but it seems highly unlikely now in my opinion.”

Cho said that he had not yet heard of any players suffering financial hardship but acknowledged that a long layoff could have an impact.

Players such as the world No. 39 Jazz, last year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, will remain in the US where he had been due to play a full schedule before a debut at the now-postponed US Masters next month.

“I keep in contact with quite a few players and a lot of them are comfortable,” Cho said.

“I feel for the guys who just came through qualifying school and they’ve probably played one or two events in their life.

“It’s very different to having a bad season where you’re missing cuts, but you still have got the opportunity to compete.

“Right now you’re deprived of the opportunity to compete. That’s a whole different ballgame.”

The Asian Tour can play all-year round, which means the crisis could lead to a permanent shift in the Asian golfing calendar to a wraparound season played from September to April.

“A tour like Europe’s going to have a lot harder time rescheduling events. Theirs is a very short golf season,” Cho said.

“I’m hoping that we can continue golf this year, whether it be July, September, October or November. It will definitely help mitigate the potential downside.

“If we could start between July and October, it means we will probably go through to April. We’ve been planning a wraparound season for the longest time but never really formalised it.

“We’re talking to sponsors and promoters. They’re definitely ready to go. They’re prepared to stage events whenever the world is ready to get back to normal.”


‘Water bottle’ weights lift Abu Dhabi athletes to world record

Updated 03 June 2020

‘Water bottle’ weights lift Abu Dhabi athletes to world record

  • Researchers, students claim Guinness World Record with novel training approach

DUBAI: Using water bottles and school bags full of books as weights helped two Abu Dhabi athletes clinch a Guinness World Record (GWR) in a gruelling physical challenge. 

Eva Clarke and Brandon Chin Loy competed as part of a mixed team to complete 12,502 chest to ground burpees in a 24-hour period, more than double the minimum requirement.

The group, including students from an Abu Dhabi university, attempted the record on May 3 and were told they had succeeded on May 27, the same day some members of the team graduated. 

Clarke, a fitness trainer and mother of three who holds a string of Guinness World Records, told Arab News on Monday that taking part in the latest attempt was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We started training for this relay event before the lockdown and when the pandemic happened, we thought we had to make the event unique, so we continued to train on Zoom,” she said.

Clarke, who led the fitness classes, held up to 50 workout sessions during the 12-week lockdown, sometimes starting as early as 4:30 a.m.

“Since I had to continue training without access to weights, I made my own by carrying six-packs of water bottles and encouraged the group to do that as well. I am going to miss the online training,” she added.

Clarke’s previous 12 records included most pullups in one hour (female), 12 hours, and 24 hours, equivalent. She also holds titles for the most knuckle pushups in one minute (female), one hour, and 24 hours equivalent, as well as most burpees in 24 hours (female), and 12 hours, most chest to ground pushup burpees in 24 hours (female), and one minute. 

Clarke also completed the fastest marathon carrying a 40 lb. backpack (female) in the 2015 London Marathon.

The burpee, or squat thrust, is a full-body exercise used in strength training and aerobics. The movement is performed in four steps, known as the “four-count burpee.”

The team was joined by two witnesses during their record attempt through a live conference call. 

“For us, the pandemic is no time to turn into a couch potato. Instead, the team challenged each other to double down on their efforts, even if our gym sessions are on hold and we are separated from our teammates,” said Daniel Gill, assistant director of wellness at a UAE university, in a statement by GWR on Sunday.

Brandon Chin Loy, a computer engineering senior at an Abu Dhabi university who broke his first world record, told Arab News on Monday that he set the event as a goal for himself. 

“I trained under Eva, and it was crazy training which used to start at 4:30 a.m.,” he said.

The team trained six times a week and completed 500 burpees an hour along with other cardio exercises, he said.

“We had to get creative with weights, so I packed books in a bag and carried that,” said Chin Loy.

Team member Ivan Camponogara, a researcher in movement science, said: “Coming face to face with physical challenges never seems to deter me. I take on each adversity with a determined mindset and a will to succeed.” 

Shaddy Gaad, senior marketing manager at GWR’s MENA office, said: “They adapted quickly to our newly launched Remote Adjudication service, where we received their application, adjudicated it online, and presented them with the certificate in a chain video.”

Tereza Petrovicova, who celebrated her university graduation and a Guinness World Record on the same day, said: “This cannot be a better day for us. We thank Guinness World Records for accepting remote adjudication. This online feature creates two measures of accountability, and we did not want to be left behind the eight ball.”

Anna Erdi, who also graduated with a degree in psychology, said: “Mind and body are linked together. All it takes is just one decision to change your attitude 180 degrees. Once that decision is taken, normal will be different. It will not be the same normal, but it can be a better normal.”

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