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Gymnastics can become gold mine at SEA Games, says ex-MGF honorary secretary

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by December 31, 2016 General

Malaysia's Farah Ann Abdul Hadi performs on the balance beam during the women's artistic gymnastics team final at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore June 7, 2015. — Reuters picMalaysia’s Farah Ann Abdul Hadi performs on the balance beam during the women’s artistic gymnastics team final at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore June 7, 2015. — Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 ― The strategies and efforts made by the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) have started to bear fruit, albeit slowly but surely.

MGF former honorary secretary, N. Shanmugarajah believes the sport has a huge potential to deliver Malaysia many medals at 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (Australia).

“Gymnastics is not something you can produce champions in overnight, it is difficult and needs time. Efforts like organising more events and competitions, bringing in foreign coaches and choreographers have been made to ensure the development and progress of our athletes.

“Uzbekistan’s Lyudmila Polivanova was brought in as Podium Programme coach while Russian choreographer Irina Zenovka was called for a week training to enhance the skills and technique of our gymnasts.

“This is necessary because rhythmic gymnastics in particular, is of very high level. A small error will cause you lose to the medal,” he told Bernama here, today.

Shanmugarajah, who was MGF honorary secretary for 36 years, witnessed the progress of gymnastics in the country.

Malaysia won her maiden gold medal at the 1989 SEA Games and the 1998 Commonwealth Games, both held in Kuala Lumpur.

He announced his retirement in the MGF annual general meeting recently due to health concerns, six months after receiving the prestigious International Federation of Gymnastics’ (FIG) silver medal honour in June.

Shanmugarajah has been appointed as the adviser of MGF.

The 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games will offer 20 gold medals, 12 in artistic and eight in rhythmic gymnastics.

The MGF is eyeing to amass as many medals as possible.

In the 2015 Singapore SEA Games, Malaysia won five gold, four silver and three bronze medals.

Malaysia’s best achievement was at the 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games where the gymnastics squad won 16 of 20 gold medals at stake, with the continuity programmes of the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

Shanmugarajah admitted the most challenging task was to secure sponsorship from the private sector for the development of sports.

“They prefer to support more popular sports which are already rich. They see no use in spending on sports development but we managed to survive with what we have,” he said. ― Bernama

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