KUALA LUMPUR: Qatar, hosts of the 2006 Asian Games, saw their national gymnastics associaton being born just over a year ago. But already, preparations for the Doha Games are in full swing.
An 11-member men's team from Qatar here for a three-week training session with the national men's team at the Maktab Perguruan Teknik.
Team manager Ali Ahmed Essa Al-Hitmi said they had in fact started their training programme just over 1½ years ago.
And Malaysia are not the only country from whom they are gaining expertise. We have coaches from China, Belgium and France working with our young boys. Our girls' side have coaches from Belgium and Russia. We also plan to rope a Chinese expert for the girls', said Ali.
We have 11 men gymnasts aged from seven to 16 year. These gymnasts have been training since we started our association ½ a year ago. We also have 75 junior boys'.
We also have about 10 women artistic gymnast and four for the rhythmic. Our women team will also be here in Malaysia on a training stint in June.
There has been great interest in the sport since we got the job to host the Asian Games and since the gymnasts saw the competition during the Busan Asian Games (last year), said Ali.
Currently our boys' have been training at separate training venue but we plan to put them under one roof. We also hope to increase their training sessions. They have been training only three hours daily but we realise that they can become better by training at least for five hours in two sessions daily.
On their aim for the Asian Games, Ali said: We are a new team to this sport. China and South Korea and even Malaysia are way ahead of us. But they can be sure our team will be out to give them a good fight.
Ali said they chose Malaysia as their training venue because of their good relationships with the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF).