KLANG: She has excelled as a gymnast, but Farah Ann Abdul Hadi said she never expected to be recognized with an award from Selangor.
She has been representing the state in competitive gymnastics since she was six years old.
Farah Ann was one of the five recipients of the Ahli Kegemilangan Sukan Selangor (A.K.S) from Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah in conjunction with his 71st birthday on Sunday.
"I am honoured to be even considered for the award and it is a big surprise for me, I am very grateful for the recognition," said Farah.
When asked about the incident where Sultan Sharafuddin had come to her defence after certain quarters criticised her sporting attire during the 2015 Sea Games in Singapore, the gymnast said she was thankful for the Ruler’s intervention.
Farah Ann won two gold medals, a silver medal and three bronze medals at the event.
Sultan Sharafuddin also wrote Farah Ann a letter congratulating her on her achievements and said he hoped she would not take the comments by "narrow-minded people" to heart.
The Ruler also advised her to continue to strive to be the best in her field.
Sultan Sharafuddin, who said Farah Ann had made Malaysia and Selangor proud of her achievements, also chided those who had made a fuss over her competitive sports attire.
"It was a very big deal for me to get the letter and recognition from Tuanku and saying he was proud of my achievements for Malaysia and Selangor boosted my morale,’’ the 21-year-old.
On her award, Farah Ann said it was a big encouragement for athletes like her.
In addition to Farah Ann, other athletes who received the A.K.S were Paralympian Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, bowling star Shalin Zulkifli, cyclist Mohd Rizal Tisin and diver Chew Yiwei.
National swimmer Khoo Cai Lin received the Bintang Kegemilangan Sukan Selangor (BKS).