Filepic shows rhythmic gymnast Tiffany Thye Cheah Shuen training in Bandar Puteri Puchong on July 13 last year. The sport will only have two events from a possible nine contested at the 2015 SEA Games if hosts Singapore have their way.
PETALING JAYA: Sort it out in the name of development.
That’s the stand taken by Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) secretary N. Shanmugarajah after it was learnt that the rhythmic programme for the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore has been whittled down to two events from a possible nine.
Singapore have opted to stage only the team (individual category) and general (combination of clubs and hoop) competitions for the group exercise category. This is in compliance with the Olympics, which only awards medals for the individual all-around and group exercise events.
As such, there will be no medals on offer for the apparatus events – ball, clubs, ribbon and hoop – as well as the all-around individual events (individual category) and clubs and hoop events (group exercise category).
The move is advantageous to Singapore’s medal prospects as the city-state does not possess a strong portfolio in the discipline.
At the same time, the artistic programme has been retained with six events (floor exercise, balance beam, uneven bars, vault, all-around individual and team).
Shanmugarajah stressed that the move is not in the best interest of the sport at the regional level and that MGF have written to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) to persuade the SEA Games Federation to chance their mind.
“I’ve spoken to officials in other countries like the Philippines and Thailand and they agree with us ... In terms of growth, offering medals for each apparatus is the right thing to do to give countries like Laos and Myanmar, who are not big on rhythmic, an incentive towards investing and developing the sport,” he said.
The rhythmic competition was first introduced in the 1989 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia won all six events.
It was scaled down to two events (all-around individual and team) at the following Games in Manila in 1991 before going back to six events four years later in Chiang Mai (1995).
“Going back and forth like this is not helpful to the rhythmic discipline at all,” said Shanmugarajah.
“Artistic doesn’t suffer this fate because the other countries are active in that discipline. We’ve got to give those countries something to look forward to.
“Take Vietnam for example. They are slowly coming up. In the end, you want to see South-East Asia having more representation in gymnastics.”
Singapore will reveal their final decision on the matter on Feb 15.