Former gymnast Nurul makes surprise visit

FORMER national gymnast Nurul Fatiha Abdul Hamid made heads turn when she showed up in Birmingham on Tuesday.

She wasn’t there to showcase her skills but to lend her support to the Malaysian badminton team.

“I was on a short break and decided to come and watch some good badminton here,” said the petite Nurul, who had worked part-time as a sports broadcaster after retiring from her sport.

Just a month ago, Nurul was promoted from back-up coach to head the elite women’s artistic team comprising Tracie Ang, Farah Ann Hadi and Nur Ily Ilyana Azmi.

This is the first time that the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) have given a local coach the big responsibility of handling the elite programme, which was previously the domain of coaches from China and Russia.

Nurul took over from Russian Mikhail Gutsalyuk.

Gutsalyuk had been under scrutiny as most of his gymnasts had either left the national team or were nursing injuries.

Nurul, hailed as Malaysia’s artistic gymnastics queen as she had won gold in four SEA Games (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007), said she was up for the challenge.

She joined the National Sports Council (NSC) as a youth coach three years ago where she acquired the coaching experience. She also studied sports science.

“China’s former chief coach Gao Jian was here to help us out with the training programme. He is the MGF consultant,” said Nurul.

“All my gymnasts are injured and are in a rehabilitation programme. Once they are good to go, we will make the necessary plans.”

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