AFTER months without proper training, rowing athletes are finally back in training at Penang Water Sports Recreation Centre in Tanjung Bungah.

But getting the training back to speed may still be easier said than done.

A check on Saturday showed that six fully vaccinated athletes were in a Covid-19 safety bubble, back on the water and flexing muscles against sea currents again.

Penang Canoe Association secretary Girlie Tan said among their 40 athletes, 10 had since returned to resume their training.

“But since not all 10 are fully vaccinated yet, some are on fitness training like running outside the centre.

“For training with kayaks, only six athletes are allowed per session when we conduct in five days a week.

“During the training, only the coaches and athletes are allowed and we do not allow any outsiders in,” she said.

At the moment, only athletes above 20 years old are back in training, while the younger ones are not in the age group eligible for vaccination.

It may also be a longer road for training to return to the way it was before.

“Many of our athletes are 15 years old and above, and we face objections from some worried parents against their return to training.

“A few even shared plans to pull their kids out from the teams,” she revealed.

Tan added that along with the lack of good training waters, the association faced challenges in retaining its athletes.

“At the moment, we are not allowed to conduct training for dragon boats, so all our racers are practising with kayaks along with our kayak athletes.

“But for racing, kayaks are best used on stillwater. As we are training at sea only, this poses challenges,” she said.

Tan explained that on kayaks, the athletes cannot achieve the desired cadence and rhythm because of the need to negotiate waves and currents.

“We are unable to train properly because of conditions at sea, coupled with the monsoon season which can make the sea choppy.

She said the association was looking at getting a better venue, such as an indoor pool at a fitness gym in Ayer Itam.

“We are trying our best to provide proper training grounds to retain talents.

“Out of our 40 athletes, we now have fewer than 20 who are willing to return for training and the rest who agreed to return have not received their second vaccination dose.

“With many of our junior athletes facing parental objections to return to train, we are trying to sort things out and at the same time, recruit newbies before the Sukma Games next year,” Tan said.