NATIONAL track cycling star Azizulhasni Awang has urged the authorities to help Fatehah Mustapa start a new cycle of life after her retirement recently.
Former world keirin champion Azizulhasni said it is not easy to make a transition from the elite sporting arena to a normal life, especially for those who have dedicated much of their years to sports.
Fatehah, who has spent 17 years as a competitive cyclist, announced her retirement on Saturday.
Azizulhasni, 32, and Fatehah, 31, rose up together under national coach John Beasley.
“We are shocked by the news (retirement),” said Azizulhasni.
“Fatehah and I were sent by the National Sports Council (NSC) to train under Beasley in 2007.
“We trained together with the rest of the national team in Melbourne, and dedicated our lives to training.
“I want everyone to know that it (retiring) was not an easy decision for Fatehah to make.
“As an athlete, she spent her whole life training twice a day, dealing with injuries and having to travel and being away from her family.
“The life of an elite athlete is very different from what our friends go through in Malaysia.”
Azizulhasni added that it is statistically proven that many elite athletes struggle once they have ended their competitive careers.
“Making the transition into retirement is not easy for an elite athlete and many have failed. Not everyone is able to survive,” added Azizulhasni.
“There is a lot of research papers on the matter which shows a high percentage of elite athletes end up depressed, homeless and some even commit suicide.
“With that, I urge the authorities to assist her. I believe the first thing she needs is a job.”
Azizulhasni added that he and the national elite squad, based in Melbourne, are willing to lend their support to Fatehah should she need it.
Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) had, on Sunday, said they were hoping to offer Fatehah a coaching role.
Fatehah is a two-time Olympian and is the only Malaysian woman to finish on the podium in the UCI World Cup series and reach a World Championships final.
She is also a two-time Asian champion and an Asian Games silver medallist, in addition to many other achievements.