Malaysian gymnast Chan Mei Thung leads her team-mates in training, a day before the 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships begins. Overlooking their progress is coach Eriko Akebayashi. – ART CHEN / The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Seize the moment, it’s your time now.
That’s the one thing that team manager and ex-national gymnast Dr Farrah-Hani Imran’s wants the Malaysian contingent to remember when they compete at the 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships which begin Friday at Stadium Putra in Bukit Jalil.
With two tickets to the upcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing (Aug 16-28) up for grabs, the onus is now on Olivia Tai Qing Tong, Shasangari Sivaneswary, Koh Sei Yan and Shak Yuki (individual category) and Thew Yue Jia, Chan Mei Thung, Adelina Theresa Mathews, Chai Xin Nong, Yap Sin Lu and Loh Xiao Tian (group category) to make all the blood, sweat and tears shed during their months of preparation count.
“Anything can happen on the carpet on competition day and there are a lot of things that come into play. So it’s not just about ability or skills, but also how you deal with the pressure and expectations. This is their chance to shine, to prove themselves and show the world what they’re capable of,” said Dr Farrah-Hani during the team’s final training on Thursday.
“If you ask me, honestly I think all the girls in the individual category have an equal chance to qualify (for the YOG). What will be the difference is how they perform on the day of the competition. And it’s the same for the group. If they can rise above – put aside their fear and rise to the occasion, they can do it,” she added.
Friday’s competition begins with the hoop event for the group exercise competition followed by the hoop and ball event for the individual competition. And as far as targets are concerned, Dr Farrah-Hani said what matters is first getting into the finals.
“I’m very optimistic of our chances. Training has been going well. Everthing seems to be in place. The best advice I can offer all of them is to just stay focused and be in the zone. Block out all the external stuff ... when it comes to the competition, all that matters is you and the apparatus,” she said.
“Our goal is for the girls to get to the finals. If we’re there, we’ve already got one foot through the door.”
Group exercise: Hoop (12.15-1pm)
Individual: Hoop and Ball - Group A (2-3.15pm) and Group B (3.30-4.45pm)