Olivia Tai Qing Tong won Malaysia's first gold medal at the recent 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships. She bagged the gold in the clubs event.
PETALING JAYA: Regardless if they are ready or not, new challenges await Malaysia’s junior rhythmic gymnasts.
Fifteen-year-olds Olivia Tai Qing Tong, Shashangari Sivaneswary, Koi Sei Yan and Shak Yuki will spend their last months as juniors in the national back-up squad with this year’s Sukma Games in Perlis (May 24-June 4) being their last assignment.
Then it’s the elite squad for them with brand new routines and high-level competitions as the foursome will then link up with seniors Amy Kwan Dict Weng (19), Wong Poh San (18) and Fatin Zakirah Jalany Zain Jalany (17) to make up the national elite squad.
“It’s good to have four gymnasts who can progress into the senior squad this year. It bodes well for rhythmic gymnastics especially with the 2015 SEA Games coming up. Malaysia will be able to form a team,” said Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF)’s vice-president and rhythmic gymnastics technical chairman Petrina Low.
At the recent 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recorded their best ever result, winning four medals including their first ever gold in the history of the championships, courtesy of Olivia’s triumph in the clubs final.
Olivia is also up for a spot at the upcoming Nanjing Youth Olympic Games (YOG) from Aug 16-28.
In 2010, Lee Wan Nin took home two silvers at the championships before earning a wildcard entry into the inaugural YOG in Singapore the same year. She went on to finish fourth in the all-around individual event at the Games.
Besides that, Petrina said that the MGF are more than keen to incorporate the group exercise into their sports programme.
The pioneer group exercise team of Thew Yue Jia, Chan Mei Thung, Adelina Theresa Mathews, Chai Xin Nong, Yap Sin Lu and Loh Xiao Tian did well beyond expectations to snag the bronze in the hoop final at the championships despite only having six months of preparations under coach Eriko Akebayashi.
“Results matter, and with the team earning the bronze, is a testament that if given the focus and time to develop, we can produce a top class team to compete at the 2015 SEA Games. However, the decision to add group exercise into our programme will depend on the National Sports Council,” added Petrina.