Natasha upsets elite gymnasts to make Glasgow squad


KUALA LUMPUR: When Britain-based artistic gymnast Natasha Raymund Jayadev Devaraj was about four years old, she used to jump over the baby safety gate at home.

Her cool and natural “acrobatic” moves led to her parents signing her up for gymnastics.

Yesterday, the 15-year-old made good her decision to pursue gymnastics when she did better than some of the national elite gymnasts to win the right to represent Malaysia at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July.

She made the cut by finishing among the top three artistic gymnasts in a two-day selection trials conducted by the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF), which ended yesterday at Gymnasium Two in Bukit Jalil.

She came in second with a total score of 49.433 points in the individual all-around event. The top place went to Farah Ann Hadi with 51.117 points while Tang Ing Yueh came in third with 49.033.

Natasha, who arrived from Manchester on Wednesday to participate in the two-day trials, was ecstatic.

“I’m so excited to win a place at the Commonwealth Games. It was quite a cool experience,” said the Kuala Lumpur-born Natasha, who has been living in Manchester since she was two.

“When I was little, the baby gates never used to work for me. I used to flip over them and my parents (Raymund and Prema Ariaratnum, who are both doctors) were quite amused and thought that I would do well in gymnastics.

“I took part in my first competition when I was seven years old but it was just a simple two-piece competition – floor and vault events. I have been regularly taking part in the English Championships, where I have finished in the top 10. The Commonwealth Games will be my first major tournament. In fact, these trials are the first stint abroad for me.”

When asked who encouraged her to take part in the trials, she said: “My coach (Jane Leigh) did all the research and connected with the Malaysian officials. I’m glad that I was given a chance to participate in the trials.”

Natasha, who will be returning home tomorrow, said she struggled on the first day but performed better yesterday.

“There is just over a month for me to get ready for the Games. I will join my team-mates in Scotland during the Games. It will be awesome to win a medal for Malaysia,” added Natasha, whose favourite food is nasi lemak.

Meanwhile, MGF secretary N. Shanmugarajah said: “We have confirmed three women artistic gymnasts for the Games.

“Our top gymnast Tracie Ang is injured but we have not ruled her out yet. She has almost a month to recover. We will confirm two more names soon.”

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