KUALA LUMPUR: National women’s artistic gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi was on the verge of quitting the sport late last year but thank goodness, she didn’t!
The 25-year-old has finally booked a ticket for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games in style at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, on Saturday to show that her sweat, blood and tears all these years and the courage to stand up and fight against criticism were all worth it.
At the world meet Farah finished 59th out of the 234 competitors in the individual all-around qualifying round, followed by Tan Ing Yueh (91st) and Tracie Ang (108th).
But she made the cut by virtue of finishing 16th out of 20 in the third qualifying criteria based on her individual all-around result.
There are seven criteria in total, set by the FIG, the governing body for Olympic qualification and only a total of 98 women get to compete in Tokyo after the qualifying process is completed.
Farah, who has been with the national team since 2010, was happy to get it right in her second attempt. She was left sobbing after she narrowly missed the cut – by just two points – for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
“Qualifying for my first Olympics means the world to me. It has been my dream and goal to qualify and I’m ecstatic that I’ve accomplished it, ” said Farah.
What makes her qualification even more special is that Farah did not give up even when she was faced with all kinds of challenges – injuries, expectations, and even petty criticisms.
“There have been countless injuries and pain. Even now I’m on physio and pain management, ” said Farah.
“But the lowest point for me was the end of last year when I was on the verge of giving up.
“I was really drained and needed some time off to recuperate and recover. After taking a break, I came back with renewed determination and worked hard for my goals, ” said Farah, who has proved her naysayers wrong.Farah is the second Malaysian woman gymnast in 20 years to qualify for the Olympics after Au Li Yen at the 2000 Sydney edition.
She is only the third Malaysian gymnast to reach the Games after Li Yen and Ng Shu Wai. Shu Wai, who is one of Farah’s coaches now, competed in the men’s artistic event at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Farah is very grateful to Shu Wai and her coach Natalia Sinkova for their help in achieving her goal.
“I have no words to describe how unbelievably thankful I am to have the best coaches in the world. They know how to push and motivate me and most importantly, know me as a person and gymnast, ” she said.
“They have always believed in me and my goals, even when I doubted myself. Thank you so much for everything, coaches.
“There are other factors too for what I have achieved today. The continuous support from my teammates and family also made the difference.
“I’ve learnt to train smarter and be mentally stronger, I’ve focused on competing for myself and learnt to enjoy the training, competitions, the whole journey, ” added Farah, who will now focus on living up to her reputation at the Philippines SEA Games from Nov 30-Dec 11.