Chasing glory on four fronts

  • Community Sports
  • Monday, 01 Apr 2019

Radha (holding flag) with (on his right) Malek Noor and Zaiton and part of the Malaysian contingent competing in the 2019 Aesthetic Group Gymnastics World Cup, Challenge Cup, Four Continents and Singapore Cup. — ONG SOON HIN/The Star

The Malaysian Aesthetic Group Gymnastics Association (Magga) are going for glory in four competitions starting today in Singapore.

A delegation of 135 participants will compete in the World Cup; Challenge Cup; Four Continents and Singapore Cup 2019 from today till Thursday.

Despite being a relatively new sport in the country, the Malaysian delegation will have 16 teams in six age groups with ages ranging from as young as eight to 21.

The teams represent clubs and each one is led by their respective club leaders: Tiffany Hew (Elite Dance Academy), Wan Dina Norazrin Wan Kamarulzaman (Kickstart Gymnastics), Mike Ng Sik Hoi (Total Gymnastique), Tengku Noor Fatimah Zaharah Tengku Zaimi Azlan (ZV Gymdanz Fitness) and Thye Chee Kiat (Pink Clubs).

“I hope my senior girls can win a gold in either the World Cup or Four Continents. They recently won a gold at the Glen Iris International Cup in Australia,” said Chee Kiat, who won gold, silver and bronze in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

“The rest of the girls are participating for the very first time, they have worked very hard in the past few weeks and are very excited about it.

“I believe this will be very good exposure for all of them,” she added.

Magga secretary Sarah Sarraj said the target was to win one gold and three bronze.

“Our biggest rivals in Asia are Japan, which is ranked fifth in the world, as well as Kazakhstan and host Singapore. Finland and Russia are also strong contenders from Europe.

“Everyone wants to win and the Malaysian team can do it too. They are well prepared and I am sure they will make our country proud,” said Sarah, one of the two Level Three International Judges with Magga treasurer Choo Kim Lian.

A total of 16 countries and over 1,000 participants will attend the four-in-one team event at the Tampines Hub Team Sports Hall in Singapore.

Sports Commissioner Datuk Zaiton Othman said she was impressed by the number of teams that were taking part in the championships, coming from a new association that has been committed in developing the sport.

“Hopefully, others will follow the example and bring the sport to the next level and beyond.

Being a former athlete herself, Zaiton had nothing but words of encouragement for the participants during the flag handover ceremony.

“The important thing is to enjoy the competition and experience. Enjoy every single moment and don’t put pressure on yourself,” she said to them.

“I am also very happy to learn that former gymnasts like Chee Kiat and Durratun Nashihin Rosli are coming back to serve the sport.”

Magga president Datuk Abdul Malek Noor explained that aesthetics group gymnastics is not just another form of gymnastics but one that supports and extends the career span of gymnasts who carry on the strenuous demands of artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.

Just one year after its formation in 2016, Magga successfully held its first international 2017 Magga Cup which attracted more than 300 participants from 13 countries.

“We didn’t stop there. We decided to take another step by sending our teams overseas for competitions. Last year, three of our teams participated in the AGG Asia and Pacific Cup 2018 in China where we obtained one gold, one silver and overall fourth placing.

“We were also invited to the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary last year where the squad had a fruitful outing, returning with one bronze and the best Mixed team from Asia award.”

Malaysia will have 16 teams from five different clubs participating, headed by Magga vice-president Datuk Radha Krishnan, who is also Universal Fitness and Leisure Sdn Bhd managing director and no stranger to lending support to grassroot sports.

“Looking at the popularity of this sport, which is very big in Europe, Asia is catching up. Countries like China, Hong Kong and India are also getting into the sport but right now in South-East Asia, Malaysia is the number one country.”

He added that the Magga committee had decided that it would put in a bid to host the next World Cup event in 2020, which will help promote aesthetic group gymnastics in the country.

“We will have to look into the financial aspects of it as we need a good hall, of which we have identified a few. But even if we don’t get to host the World Cup, we will go for the Asia-Pacific Cup, which we are confident we will be able to get.”

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