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Sunday November 7, 2010

MGF plan drastic changes in policy for greater success

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian gymnastics is all set to be hit by a third wave of change in an effort to take the sport to greater heights.

And it could well lead to Malaysia winning their first medal at the Olympic Games.

There are also plans to bring in China’s former national coach Gao Jian to strengthen their training programme.

Surprise package: Malaysia’s Elaine Koon competing in the individual ribbon event at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last month. She won the gold in the hoop event.

The performance of some foreign coaches are set to be reviewed; training and coaching structures are likely to be changed; and, most importantly, the back-up and elite athletes will be given specific targets to achieve.

Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) president Datuk Dr Zakaria Ahmad said that it was time to re-strategise and set new and clear goals.

“There will be drastic changes in the policy to get the MGF back in focus,” said Zakaria.

“We must decide whether we are interested to win a gold at the Olympic Games.

“And if we do, we must be focused on achieving it.”

“Currently, there is no clear focus. We do not have specific targets towards achieving a medal at the Olympics. Some are done on an ad hoc basis.

“It was a shock to many when Elaine (Koon) won the gold medal at the recent Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. We did not target her to win. We cannot just do something and hope for someone to surprise us along the way.

“It is all about having the right focus. We know where we have gone wrong and now is the time to get it right.”

Zakaria said that they had come out with several proposals to improve the sport after hosting a seminar, where Gao Jian was the main speaker.

“China have achieved many great successes in gymnastics. Gao Jian is a great technician. He shared his experience on how to turn athletes into champions,” said Zakaria.

“He has offered his services to help Malaysia. The MGF will meet with the NSC (National Sports Council) in December to decide on the direction we want to go and how best we can work together in achieving a focused mission.”

Gymnastics in Malaysia has come a long way.

The first wave of change for the sport came in 1978, when the association was formed. It sparked a great interest in the sport and it eventually saw Malaysia doing well at the 1989 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

The second wave came when gymnastics was included as a sport for the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

“All work to improve the standard of gymnastics started in 1994 when the government gave us the funding to hire foreign coaches and improve facilities and send our athletes for international competitions and trainings,” he said.

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