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Saturday November 17, 2012

Malaysian Gymnastics Federation engage top experts from China

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) have engaged two experts – China’s Gao Jian and Russia’s Nellie Kim – to address the decline in standard of the national artistic gymnasts.

Gao Jian is the former chief coach of China, who reaped a golden harvest at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, while Nellie is a former Olympic champion and the current FIG women’s technical committee chairman.

MGF president Datuk Dr Zakaria Ahmad, fresh from his appointment as a council member of the world governing body (FIG), said: “Gao Jian and Nellie are willing to come in as consultants to revise our training programmes so that we will have a credible team for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.

“Gao Jian will focus on the men while Nellie will oversee the women. They know exactly where our gymnasts stand now and what it will take to improve them.

“All we need is to get the National Sports Council’s approval. Gao Jian and Nellie can then get down to business. They can evaluate and draw up a plan on how to develop the team, especially in our bid to strike a medal in the 2020 Olympics.

“We are not generating new ideas and these experts can make the sport exciting again.”

He was responding to artistic gymnast Tracie Ang’s recent lament over the lack of international exposure and support for a sport that used to have representatives in the Olympic Games. Tracie, who emerged as the national champion for the third time in a three-member field at Bukit Jalil recently, wanted more international exposure to improve herself.

Prior to the National Artistic Championships, the gymnasts had only competed in one international competition in Singapore.

Zakaria agreed that artistic gymnastics has been in a rut over the last two years. Prior to that, Malaysia had representatives at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games (Au Li Yen) and 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games (Ng Shu Wai).

“We seem to fluctuate in artistic. We used to have the talent but there has been a lack of depth in our squad over the last two years. Our women are not as strong as they used to be and it is even worse with the men. I don’t think we are even ready for next year’s SEA Games,” said Zakaria.

“I agree that we haven’t been participating in international meets as much as we should have. But soon, our gymnasts will be busy again.”

Gymnastics is one of the sports listed under Malaysia’s Road to Rio programme, although the focus will be on the rhythmic discipline.

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