Thinaah to graduate with teaching degree

EXCELLENCE in sports and extracurricular activities is important but so is academic success for a good career growth, says shuttler Thinaah Muralitharan.

The 26-year-old, who will be making her maiden appearance in the Olympics in Paris in July alongside her partner Pearly Tan, has been interested in sports from a young age. Despite her jam-packed training schedule as a national women’s doubles player, she was always adamant about wanting to earn a degree.

Time, however, posed a challenge so when Covid-19 hit in 2020 and movement control orders were in place nationwide, Thinaah spoke to her parents about continuing her studies.

“I knew that obtaining a degree was as important as my sports career, so during the pandemic, when we athletes were all sent home, I used the extra time I had to enrol in Open University Malaysia (OUM),” she said during her scholarship award ceremony at the varsity in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 28.

Thinaah, who is in her final semester, was conferred a scholarship for the Bachelor of Education (Teaching English as a Second Language) with Honours programme, which covers the semesters from January 2023 to May 2024.

Thinaah’s training as part of the national team follows a set schedule with two daily sessions: mornings from 6am to 10am, and afternoons from 2pm to 5pm.

Wednesdays and Saturdays are half-day sessions, which allow her to spend time with family and friends, and to study.

Although juggling her studies and training has been “thankfully easy” as OUM’s classes are conducted online, Thinaah said she is fortunate to have friends and family on hand to advise on proper time management and knowing when to rest and recuperate.

“It’s important to know how to manage your own time well. Listening to the advice of those who are more experienced than you is also very helpful,” said the lass from Klang.

Speaking at the ceremony, OUM president and vice-chancellor Prof Dr Ahmad Izanee Awang said the varsity understood the demands on athletes such as Thinaah.

“An athlete’s schedule is unpredictable and filled with intense training and competitions worldwide. We acknowledge these challenges and adopt a flexible approach to education so that the athletes are able to balance studies with their athletic commitments,” he said, adding that Thinaah, who made the varsity’s Dean’s List twice, has not only excelled in sports but also maintained a commendable academic record throughout her journey at OUM.