Smiles return, Chan's back on beam


EVERY fortnight, StarMetro highlights a young talent who excels in his/her sport. This week, we look at young artistic gymnast Chan Sau Wah, who hung on bravely and managed to overcome her fear of the sport. 

CONTRACTOR Chan Wing Hung blew his top when his 14-year-old daughter Sau Wah informed him earlier this year that she wanted to give up artistic gymnastics. 

Sau Wah (standing, second from left) withteammates Charity Lim, Tan Kai Ling, ChongSue Jinn. Kneeling are (from left) NorHasleen Fatihin, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and Nabihah Ali.

Wing Hung certainly had reasons to be annoyed. He had uprooted his whole from Taiping to Kuala Lumpur when Sau Wah was drafted into the National Sports Council (NSC)'s junior development programme.  

Wing Hung shifted the whole family down last September so as to be close with his daughter who had enrolled at the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).  

Five months later, in February this year, Sau Wah told his father he wanted to give up the sport.  

Her reason: The tough training and her fear of getting injured. 

The most shocking part of it all was that Sau Wah was afraid to perform the routines in her pet event, the balance beam. As a result, she stayed away from training for two weeks. 

Artistic gymnast Chan Sau Wah is all smiles now that she is back on the balance beam.

Said Sau Wah: “ I don't know why but I was afraid of going through the routines. I just wanted get away from training.'' 

Evidently, Sau Wah's decision did not go down well with her father. 

Coaches Du Hong Wei and Natalia Sinkova were just as perplexed as it was they who had handpicked Sau Wah during a talent identification programme.  

The coaches were convinced that Sau Wah, who was making steady progress in training, could become a champion in the making. 

In fact, Sinkova, who has been with the national squad for the past eight years, played a big part in encouraging Sau Wah to return to the sport. 

Sau Wah, who has overcome her fear, performing a somersault on the beam.

Sau Wah admitted that it was her father and coaches who managed to convince her to return to training. 

“I returned to the sport reluctantly. Initially, I came back to artistic gymnastics to please my father and coaches.  

“However, with the help of the coaches, I managed to overcame my fear and I am now determined to make my parents and coaches proud,'' said Sau Wah after a training session at the National Sports Council gymnasium in Bukit Jalil. 

Sinkova stressed that it would have been a big loss for artistic gymnastics if Sau Wah had quit the sport. 

“Sau Wah has to believe in herself. She has the skills to excel in the sport. She has been involved in gymnastics since she was a kid. We are glad she is back in training and heading in the right direction,” said Sinkova. 

Sau Wah has not looked back since. She has already made her presence felt in the national championships by grabbing podium finishes in the SportExcel circuit. Being a member of the Elite squad, Sau Wah has to train six days a week. 

Besides performing different routines and using various apparatus, Sau Wah also attends swimming and running sessions. 

Sau Wah showing her delight with this leap during training.

Last month, Sau Wah was included in the Malaysian artistic gymnastics team for the Qatar Open. She failed to win a medal but the trip proved to be an enjoyable outing. 

“Competing in the Qatar Open was a good experience. Now, I am keen to do well in the coming Malaysian Open,'' said Sau Wah. 

The Malaysian Open in September will be used as a platform to pick six artistic gymnasts for the SEA Games in Manila. Sau Wah aims to finish among the top three. 

“I want to do well in the Malaysian Open as I don't want to disappoint my parent and coaches who have so much faith in me,'' added Sau Wah. 

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