KUALA LUMPUR: Preparing the women artistic gymnasts to dominate at the Philippines SEA Games is not the only priority for coach Nataliya Sinkova. The Ukrainian coach also wants to get Malaysian gymnasts in the Olympics for the first time in 20 years.
The last Malaysian to perform on the Olympic stage was Au Li Yen in the 2000 Sydney Games.
The nation’s top three artistic gymnasts Tan Ing Yueh, Farah Ann Hadi and Tracie Ang have been selected for the mission to collect Olympic ranking points at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany from Oct 4-15.
“It is our dream to get at least one of them to qualify for the Olympics. It will be the biggest highlight of their career. The three of them need to collect more than 52 points from three events to stand a chance to get in at the end of the qualification phase next year.
Ing Yueh made heads turn by bagging a silver in the floor exercise and bronze in the vault despite the presence of the mighty Chinese in the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup in Zhaoqing, China in May.
The trio will be joined by Rachel Yeoh Li Wen and Nur Azira Aziri for the SEA Games in Philippines from Nov 30 to Dec 11. Malaysia are aiming to make a clean sweep of all four gold medals at stake – floor exercise, balance beam, uneven bars and vault.
“We will move into the last three months of intensive training soon for the SEA Games. It’s going to be difficult as we are not competing on home ground unlike last time (2017 Games in Kuala Lumpur).
“They have also done away with the team event, where we are very strong.
“But we will be ready to fight for gold in the individual apparatus events, ” said Sinkova who is expecting stiff fights from Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.
At the KL Games two years’ ago, Malaysia bagged three out of the five gold medals at stake in women’s artistic gymnastics.
Besides taking the team gold medal, Ing Yueh and Farah clinched the gold medal in the vault and floor exercise events respectively.