Penang girl reaching new heights

Melissa showing off her medals. With her are coaches Oleysa Gasparyan (left) and Rifat Artikov.

MELISSA Choong made history as the first Penangite to win three gold medals at the MSSM National Schools Athletics Championship’s Under-12 category.

The student of GEMS Inter-national School in Pearl City, Simpang Ampat, who began her foray into track and field only a year ago, came out tops in the long jump and high jump events.

The spunky 12-year-old also anchored the state’s 4 x 200m relay team to victory at the championships held in Terengganu earlier this month.

She gave the credit for her achievements to her supportive parents, teachers and coaches and hoped this was only the beginning of greater things to come.

“I believe that my capabilities come from God and I pray before each meet,” said Melissa, who dreams of becoming the first Malaysian woman to win a track and field medal at the Olympics.

Currently, she is also the record holder for the Under-12 long jump and high jump in Penang, having set new marks during the state meet in April.

She broke the old long jump record of 4.69m, which stood for 31 years, with a new distance of 4.77m.

For the high jump, she attained 1.46m, eclipsing the previous best of 1.45m.

This was not her personal best as she recorded even better figures of 4.86m for the long jump and 1.55m for the high jump in the Perak All Comers Meet in March.

Proud father Roland Choong said, “Melissa looks forward to training every day. She is very focused and challenges herself to do better each time.”

Mother Jasmine Tan said, “We encourage her to pursue her dreams in track and field and at the same time, enjoy her studies.

“This is why we chose to enrol her in GEMS as we believe the environment there encourages children to develop their talent.”

GEMS, set on a 3.2ha (8 acres) campus in the fast-growing Pearl City township, is the newest international school in Penang and the first on the mainland.

Apart from offering a world-class British curriculum enriched with Malaysian subjects, it also provides opportunities for students to pursue various sporting and extra-curricular activities.

The school has an array of sporting facilities including a football pitch and two swimming pools as well as basketball, futsal, netball and sepak takraw courts.

GEMS Penang is the first Malaysian school established by GEMS Education which was founded over 55 years ago.

GEMS Education is still driven by the simple goal to make quality education available to everyone.

It now operates more than 70 schools worldwide through a family-run organisation of visionary educational practitioners who inspire thousands of students to challenge themselves and excel.

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