No birthday joy but gymnast Tracie has plenty of reasons to smile

KUALA LUMPUR: Top national women’s artistic gymnast Tracie Ang (pic) did not get to celebrate her 20th birthday with a medal in her first back-to-back international tournament recently but she’s still brimming with joy.

She qualified for one final at the World Cup Challenge in Doha on Sunday as the fifth qualifier in the balance beam – and finished eighth with a score of 12.325.

Romania’s Larissa Andreea came out tops with 15.500, and followed by China’s Zeng Sigi (15.150) and Gabrielle Jupp of Britain (14.450).

Tracie was Malaysia’s best performer and it was only her second final appearance in the World Cup. She featured in her first final at the World Cup in Belgium three years ago in the same event.

She had also competed in the Challenge Cup in Cottbus, Germany, two weeks ago but did not make any finals. Last week, she competed in the World Cup with Tan Ing Yueh and Farah Ann Hadi.

“I turned 20 on March 21 ... I wished for a birthday gift but I didn’t win any medals. I struggled in Germany but qualifying for the final in the World Cup was memorable. I’ve never been ranked fifth before – so that felt good,” said Tracie.

“We’’ve been training at home since January and it was good to finally get a chance to compete abroad. Now we know where we stand against some of the best gymnasts in Asia and Europe.”

Although age is catching up, Tracie has not given up hope on qualifying for the next Olympic Games.

She is even willing to undergo the punishing training regime.

“I know there are few more years to go before the Olympic Games and that I’m not getting any younger ... but I’m not quitting yet,” she said.

“My body can still endure the high intensity training and I won’t stop dreaming of the Olympics.”

Tracie, who is one of the longest-serving gymnasts in the national team, said that her next major would be the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, from Sept 30-Oct 6.

“Gymnastics is not on the list for the Myanmar SEA Games this year. So, the World Championships will be the main one for me and my team-mates. This is another opportunity for us to gauge our standard. I want to perform better,” said Tracie, who trains under coaches Nurul Fatiha and Nataliya Sinkova.

“These two coaches work together to improve our standard and build our confidence. Some of my skills have improved since I started training under them last year,” added Tracie, whose next assignment is the Islamic Games in Riau, Indonesia.

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