Olivia Tai Qing Tong is one of four gymnasts selected to represent Asia at the Games in Nanjing, China, from Aug 16-28.
PETALING JAYA: Rhythmic gymnast Olivia Tai Qing Tong has earned her golden ticket to the Youth Olympic Games in August.
The Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) were over the moon when they received confirmation from the Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) on Olivia’s participation as one of four gymnasts selected to represent Asia at the Games in Nanjing, China, from Aug 16-28.
The 15-year-old competed in the 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships, which also served as the qualifying tournament for the YOG, last month. Her scores in the team event saw her ranked joint third with Uzbekistan’s Nulifar Shomuradova (42.150), behind Yelizaveta Mainovskaya of Kazakhstan and Anora Davlyatova of Uzbekistan.
However, as only one gymnast per country can qualify, Olivia was given the nod ahead of Shomuradova. With Mainovskaya and Davlyatova also qualifying, the fourth and final slot has been awarded to host China.
“We are so happy. We kind of knew that she had made it, but to get the confirmation from the FIG was great news. We were all so anxious. It’s a big achievement for her ... and the coaches who got her there,” said MGF vice-president and rhythmic gymnastics technical chairman Petrina Low.
Reigning national junior champion Olivia is the second Malaysian gymnast to have qualified for the YOG. In 2010, Lee Wan Nin competed in the inaugural Games in Singapore, where she finished fourth in the all-around individual.
Malaysia will no doubt be banking on Olivia to deliver the goods after she bagged three medals – including the country’s first ever gold in the clubs event – at the Asian meet. Her other medals were silver (ribbon) and bronze (all-around individual).
“We’re aiming for a top-five finish. We’ve got to take into account that she will be up against gymnasts from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Azerbaijan ... not to mention Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. So, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s not impossible either,” said Petrina.
“Olivia’s a diligent girl. She’s a fighter. She’s got over one hurdle by qualifying for the Games. Now, it’s up to her to make the opportunity count. She knows how much she wants this and she’s got to show the world just that.”