Empowering women athletes

Arrifin receiving the bouquet on behalf of Ahmad Shapawi with (from left) El Regina, Au-Yong, Thye and Sarina.

DESPITE feeling slightly nervous at the thought of facing international rhythmic gymnasts in the upcoming Piala Puteri Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship, Kaelyn Ong is hoping to give her best in the inaugural tournament.

“I am really looking forward to the championship and will be rigorously preparing for it,” she said of the tournament that will take place from Dec 12 to 17.

“Hence I am hoping to pick up a tip or two during the masterclasses prior to the championship.”

Ong said while she handled the ball well, ribbon was her Achilles’ heel.

“I am not very good with the ribbon as I find it hard to rotate.

“So, I hope to improve my flexibility and ability to use the apparatus,” she said.

Organised by Sarina Rhythmic Gymnastics Club (SRGC), Piala Puteri Championship expects to see local and international athletes vying in both individual and team events for all apparatus.

It is open to participants as young as five years old.

The launch of Piala Puteri Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship at the National Sports Council, Kuala Lumpur. — Photos: FAIHAN GHANI/The StarThe launch of Piala Puteri Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship at the National Sports Council, Kuala Lumpur. — Photos: FAIHAN GHANI/The StarDuring the launch at National Sports Council (MSN) in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, four-time world champion and world cup winner Tamara Yerofeeva performed a routine for the young gymnasts.

The former rhythmic gymnast from Ukraine who now performs for Cirque Du Soleil will also conduct masterclasses prior to the championships, which Ong and her fellow gymnasts will attend.

SRGC founding principal Sarina Sundara Rajah said the championship served as an avenue to empower women athletes and foster camaraderie among gymnasts.

“Rhythmic gymnastics is more than just a type of sport.

“It allows the girls to gain other values to enable them to contribute to society.

“Piala Puteri Championship aspires to provide amateur gymnasts with a consistent platform and opportunity to compete and showcase their talent,” she said.

Yerofeeva giving a stunning performance at the launch.Yerofeeva giving a stunning performance at the launch.

After the launch, Yerofeyeva and United Nations Development Programme resident representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Niloy Banerjee also gave talks.

Former rhythmic gymnasts and gold medallists for the team category at the 1998 Commonwealth Games Thye Chee Kiat, El Regina Tajuddin, Carolyn Au-Yong and Sarina presented MSN director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail a flower bouquet as a gesture of gratitude and to celebrate his retirement at the end of September.

Ahmad Shapawi was the ‘98 Rhythmic Gymnastics Project manager.

The bouquet was received on his behalf by MSN deputy director-general Arrifin Mohd Ghani.

The tournament also has the support of Selangor Princess Tengku Zatashah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who is Royal Patron of Piala Puteri Championship.

Also present at the launch were Malaysian Gymnastics Federation deputy president Kau Git Kaur, Anti-Doping Malaysia (Adamas) director Azura Abidin as well as Ukraine Embassy in Malaysia Charge d’affaires Denys Mykhailiuk.

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