Junior rhythmic gymnast Olivia Tai Qing Tong won a gold medal recent 13th Rhythmic Gymnastics Junior Asian Championships in KL. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Get behind us now and we’ll show you the results.
That’s the appeal made by Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) vice-president and rhythmic gymnastics technical chairman Petrina Low.
Bouyed by the success of gymnast Olivia Tai Qing Tong who became the first Malaysian to win the gold at the recent 13th Rhythmic Gymnastics Junior Asian Championships, MGF are now looking for corporate sponsorships to mobilise their various development projects.
The MGF currently have projects involving pre-juniors (aged 10-12 years old), but they want to expand their programme by including the group exercise event. SportExcel has agreed to organise a local circuit catering to the group exercise competition.
“Right now, the funds allocated by the National Sports Council are only used for the seniors and juniors for competition. We don’t have much funds for the pre-juniors, which is a shame. We’d love for a corporate body to come forward and take gymnastics under its wing – help nurture and propel the sport to greater heights,” said Petrina.
Unlike powerhouses Russia, Malaysia start grooming talents roughly from age six onwards. In comparison, Russia groom their gymnasts at the age of four and they have produced individual and group all-around champions for the past four Olympic Games.
“We hope to take in gymnasts at a much younger age. With enough funds, we hope to make them into top class gymnasts,” said Petrina.
Juniors like 15-year-olds Olivia and Shasangari Sivaneswary as well as Wong Poh San, 18, have benefited from early competition exposure overseas via sponsorships.
“There are lots of competitions overseas (for pre-juniors), but the girls can’t take advantage of that due to the lack of funds. They were lucky enough to be able to compete at the Hibiscus Cup (their first international competition) in Okinawa, Japan, in January this year,” said Petrina.
“We won two golds and two silvers there. We’ve got the talent and a great team of coaches. What we need is to invest in these gymnasts to churn out better champions and keep our development projects going,” she added.