Gymnasts all fired up to for Juniors tourney

A file photo of the national junior gymnasts Olivia Tai Ting Tong (front) Koh Sei Yan (centre) Shak Yuki (left) and Shasangari Sivaneswary Nagarajan. They face an uphill battle to make a clean sweep of the 18 medals in the individual category of the 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Cham­pionships as face the gymnastic powerhouses in the tournament.

KUALA LUMPUR: It is highly unlikely that Malaysia will make a clean sweep of the 18 medals in the individual category of the 13th Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Cham­pionships at Stadium Putra from Feb 18-25.

But, that’s not going to stop the national junior rhythmic gymnasts from giving their best to win a spot at the Youth Olympics Games (YOG) in Nanjing, China, from Aug 16-28.

Fifteen-year-olds Olivia Tai Ting Tong, Shasangari Sivaneswary Nagarajan, Shak Yuki and Koh Sei Yan are down to compete in the ball, clubs, hoop and ribbon as well as the all-around individual and team events at Stadium Putra.

But it won’t be a stroll in the park for the foursome, who will go up against the likes of China, Japan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

National elite squad coach Yulia Ivanova and Lidia Legotina have been putting the girls through the paces with extended hours of training and control tests.

Despite the stiff competition, Russian Ivanova said that the gymnasts are capable of nicking the team gold.

“It’s going to be very tough for individual glory ... especially against the Kazakhs and Uzbeks. There are also China and Japan.

“China are known for only revealing their gymnasts at big competitions ... that’s something we’re aware of. We have faith in our girls to do well. We need them to bring their A-game on competition day or it will be tough to even get into the top four,” said Ivanova.

The Asian meet presents the best chance for the gymnasts, who are in line to be promoted to the elite squad, to have a breakthrough.

Olivia, Shasangari and Yuki have been in the national set-up since 2011 while Sei Yan of Kuantan joined in 2013.

“It’s the first big competition of the year ... but also the most important as doing well will help us earn a spot at the YOG. It’s a best chance to prove ourselves,” said reigning national junior champion Olivia.

“And it’s being held here ... I think everyone will be counting on us to do well and we’ll try not to disappoint them,” chimed in Shasangari.

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