Saturday, 1 February 2014 | MYT 7:42 PM
Urgent need to set up gymnastics group programme
A file picture of the national junior gymnasts (clockwise from bottom left): Chan Mei Tung, Adelina Theresa Mathews, Thew Yue Jia, Chan Xin Nong, Loh Xiao Tian and Yap Sin Lu. The MGF hopes for a decent showing from them in the 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships.
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) are looking to set up a group exercise programme as soon as possible to develop future medal prospects.
Group exercise is relatively new to Malaysian gymnastics and the country will compete in the event for the first time at the 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Feb 18-25.
Although the six-gymnast team of Thew Yue Jia, Chan Xin Nong, Yap Sin Lu, Adelina Theresa Mathews, Loh Xiao Tian and Chan Mei Tung are relatively new, MGF are hoping for a decent showing as the Asian met also doubles up as the qualifiers for this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, from Aug 16-28.
The event has also been included in this year’s Sukma (Malaysia Games) in Perlis from May 24-June 4.
“Like any sport, you have to start somewhere and it’s important to get as much high-level exposure as soon as we can. Hopefully, by the 2017 edition (of the SEA Games) in Kuala Lumpur, group exercise will be in (the list of events) and that would mean three extra medals up for grabs for Malaysia ... which is a great boost,” said MGF vice-president and rhythmic gymnastics technical chairman Petrina Low.
If included, the rhythmic competition can offer up to nine medals for Malaysia – six in the individual events (ball, clubs, ribbon, hoop, team and all-around individual finals) and three in the group exercise events (general competition – hoop and clubs combined, hoop and clubs finals).
It is learnt that 2015 SEA Games host Singapore have agreed to stage only two events for the rhythmic discipline (individual team event and group exercise), which will be a severe blow to Malaysia’s medal prospects at the Games.
This is not the first time that a host country have dropped or omitted an Olympic sport from their programme.
In the last 10 editions of the SEA Games, gymnastics has been excluded three times – 1999 (Brunei), 2009 (Indonesia) and 2013 (Myanmar).
Last year’s hosts Myanmar had initially agreed to host the rhythmic competition, but moves to include the artistic competition resulted in a complete U-turn by the organising committee and it resulted in rhythmic getting the boot.
Singapore will reveal their final decision on the matter on Feb 15.