Stakes are high for gymnasts to deliver at SEA Games

Hanoi on her mind: Tan Ing Yueh is one of the gymnasts in the current artistic team.

PETALING JAYA: Future funding is at stake for gymnasts at the Vietnam SEA Games.

If they perform well in Hanoi in May, their participation in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the Asian Games in Hangzhou will be fully funded or else they may have to fork out their own money under Category B.

National women’s artistic gymnastics coach Ng Shu Wai said they would use the World Cup in March in Cairo, Egypt, as their tune-up for the SEA Games.

“We are focusing on the SEA Games first because a lot is at stake for us. The National Sports Council (NSC) will decide our fate, whether to be placed under Category A or B for the next two Games, based on our performances,” said Shu Wai.

“We have to perform well. The budget isn’t big this year, but I do know that a good outing will lead to a bigger funding for the Commonwealth and Asian Games.

“A new points scoring system will be formalised in February and for now it’s best for us to stay at home and conduct control testing. We will then get to test the new system at the World Cup.

“After the Egypt trip, we will review and see what else is needed to mount a strong challenge at the SEA Games.”

In the last SEA Games in the Philippines, the women’s artistic team won four golds, one silver and two bronzes to emerge as the overall champions.

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi was the star performer when she won the all-around, uneven bars and floor exercise, while Tracie Ang, who is now retired, bagged the gold in the balance beam.

Shu Wai admitted that competition in Hanoi would be even tougher, and there is also an element of unpredictability, no thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We know some nations have skipped competitions and been doing their own training.

“So it’s tough for us to assess the capabilities of the gymnasts, especially the Vietnamese girls,” said Shu Wai.

“As for the ones we know, Indonesia’s Rifda (Irfanaluthfi) has been sent for several overseas stints to prepare for the Games while the Philippines’ Kaitlin De Guzman, who missed the 2019 Games, has started training in the United States.”

The current Malaysian women’s team comprise Farah, Tan Ing Yueh, Geanie Ng, Zarith Imaan Khalid and Rachel Yeoh.

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