National gymnast finds the right rhythm


Moment of pride: Joe Ee took home the silver medal at the recent SEA Games in Hanoi.

 IT takes 10 years of hard work off stage to achieve one minute of glory on stage, so goes a Chinese saying.

For national rhythmic gymnast Ng Joe Ee, who usually gets only three hours of sleep a day, that couldn’t have been more apt.

Her years of rigorous training have borne fruit, with her bringing home the silver medal from the South-East Asian (SEA) Games held in Hanoi, Vietnam, last May.

“As I stood on the podium to receive the medal during the award ceremony, many thoughts flashed through my mind.

“I was really touched as I thought about the hours I had spent training in the gym and overcoming the various challenges along the way,” the 17-year-old told StarEdu.

One of the challenges she had grappled with was nursing a leg injury she had sustained prior to the Games.

“On top of the physical pain, I was getting increasingly worried about my performance during the competition,” she said, adding that putting aside her worries the moment she stepped into the arena and focusing on her routine, apparatus and the music helped steer her in the right direction. “I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities given to me that led up to that moment at the podium – from entering the national team and participating in various competitions that provided me with experience, to competing at the SEA Games,” she said.

A fifth-former at SMK Puteri Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur, Joe Ee, who is set to sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination next year, shared that her daily life entails striking a balance between her academic needs and her sports commitments. “Apart from Sundays, I train for about five hours per day. On weekdays immediately after school, I go for training, which ends at around 9pm.

“I usually arrive home late at night after training. So, past 10pm is the only time I have left to complete my homework before going to bed,” said the Kuala Lumpur-born lass.

Her resilience, as well as her family’s support, she said, is what keeps her going.

Joe Ee’s parents, she added, have invested in her passion for the sport ever since she was a four-year-old who took great interest in baby gym classes.

When she started taking part in rhythmic gymnastics competitions at the age of eight, they rallied behind her, investing in apparatus, leotards and training, she recalled. Now that she is a rising star in the national team, Joe Ee doesn’t forget to thank Dr Svetlana Mekantsishvili, who had roped her into the team after seeing her performance at the Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) rhythmic gymnastics competition in 2017, and who had coached her for two years; and her current coach Yulia Ivanova, whom she has trained with since she was 14 years old, for their guidance.

Having taken part at the 2022 FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Azerbaijan and the Irina Deleanu Cup in Romania this year, the next big event for Joe Ee would be the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, set to take place in the United Kingdom from July 28 to Aug 8.

She shared that her biggest aim for the Games is to perform her routine flawlessly with hopes of entering the finals.

Joe Ee encouraged students aspiring to shine as rhythmic gymnasts to “work hard”.

“This sport may not be easy but if you work hard, you can achieve anything because nothing is impossible,” she said.

“Rhythmic gymnastics is like a lotus. While it has a beautiful bloom, it’s not easy for it to grow from within the muddy waters. “However, with perseverance, it is possible to show the world its most beautiful side,” she added.

Hoi Kei, 20, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team.

Now that you have read the article, test your understanding by carrying out the following English language activities.

1. What are three adjectives you would use to describe Joe Ee?

Explain your answer.

2. Imagine you are a teen journalist who has been given the opportunity to interview Joe Ee for your school magazine. What are some questions you would ask her?

Brainstorm with an activity partner, and think of the answers that Joe Ee would give in response.

When you are done, role-play the interview.

3. Now, turn to the StarSport section in today’s copy of the Sunday Star newspaper.

How many types of sports can you find being featured in it?

4. What is the sport that interests you the most?

Look for an article that features the sport and underline the key points in it.

Next, without referring to the article, tell an activity partner about what you have just read.

Since 1997, The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme has supported English language teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools nationwide. Now in its 25th year, Star-NiE is continuing its role of promoting the use of English language through a weekly activity page in StarEdu. In addition, Star-NiE’s BRATs Young Journalist Programme will continue to be a platform for participants to hone and showcase their English language skills, as well as develop their journalistic interests and instincts. Follow our updates at facebook.com/niebrats. For Star-NiE enquiries, email starnie@thestar.com.my.

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