Olivia Tai Qing Tong in action during the 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships at Stadium Putra in February. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: With gymnast Olivia Tai Qing Tong just four months away from competing at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) are already on the lookout for the next batch of gymnasts.
MGF are conducting an identification programme at Gymnasium 1 of the National Sports Council in Bukit Jalil this Sunday to find gymnasts for the 2022 edition of the Youth Olympics.
The programme is open to children aged between four and seven, and no previous experience is necessary. The selection will be conducted in two halves – six and seven-year-olds (9am-12 noon) and four and five-year-olds (1-3pm).
MGF vice-president and rhythmic gymnastics technical chairman Petrina Low said their mission is to identify new talents and to start kids on gymnastics at a younger age.
“We want to get a leg up on the competition and get them started on gymnastics really young. We want to be able to identify new raw talents that we can groom to become top class gymnasts,” said Petrina.
This is the first time MGF are organising an open selection for gymnasts under the age of 10. Previously, they conducted their selection process by going to schools. The last time MGF held an identification trial was in 1994, when it was organised nationwide to pick gymnasts for the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
That selection programme yielded the quartet of Thye Chee Kiat, Carolyn Au Yong, El Regina Tajuddin and Sarina Sundara Rajah who went on to win the team gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Chee Kiat went on to clinch two more medals – silver (hoop) and bronze (rope) – while Carolyn took home the bronze in the ribbon event.
“Selections like this are vital for the development of the sport. Olivia, for instance, was discovered at age of six through a selection process. This is the best way to discover untapped talents,” said Petrina.
“We’re really hoping for a big turnout ... it would be really good for the sport.
“Even if the kids are not from Kuala Lumpur or Selangor, they are still invited to attend the programme and if they are successful, their names will be passed on to their respective states for consideration.”
Interested parents can visit the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation Rhythmic Gymnastics Technical Committee Facebook page at on.fb.me/PNqMKB for more details.