Back in November, it was reported that the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation had called for the assistance of WTC President Nellie Kim and China’s Gao Jian, as experts to address the decline in standard of artistic gymnastics at the top level in Malaysia.
The Malaysians cited lack of new ideas crucial to their success in turning out talented gymnasts. They have found themselves stuck in a rut for quite some time with a lack of depth in their elite artistic gymnasts with few talented gymnasts coming through from the grass roots. An article from The Malaysian Star tells us that the nation now only has four female gymnasts in the elite National squad, Tracie Ang, Tan Ing Yueh, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and Nur Eli Ellina Azmi and have no talented feeder squads coming through.
Malaysia have had some competitive success recently, although in rhythmic. At the recent Australian Youth Olympic Festival, the team placed third and in the All Around, thirteen year old Iman Iskandar Chan scooped a bronze medal. This resulted in being their most successful outing at the AYOF, completely unexepected results. National Artistic Head Coach Nurul Fatiha who took over from Russian Mikhail Gutsalyuk last February told spoke about the problems that they are facing,
“There is just too big a gap between the elite squad and the development (pelapis) squad. We don’t have enough gymnasts coming through the ranks,”
Interestingly, she also tells of the strength and condition of the gymnasts:
“Our gymnasts are good, but they’re fragile. We have to look after them like precious cargo. Push them too hard, we’ll lose them to injury … and they can’t compete. It also makes planning for competitions difficult as it’s a gamble and not everyone is 100% fit all the time,”
A more recent article in the Malaysian Star reports on the National Sports Council’s move to revamp the women’s artistic gymnastics development programme. A move which is welcomed by Nurul Fatiha.
This is somewhat like my own country, Ireland, the arrival of foreign coaches has done the country a great deal of good to date. In respect to WAG, we are nowhere near in line with the top countries in the world but with the right guidance, planning and coach education I hope that we will eventually get close. In Malaysia too, the introduction of foreign coaches has already begun, in the hope that they will bring new life and ideas to the sport. Over time gymnasts and coaches who have worked together for sometime and are stuck in a rut can become fed up and the introduction of other coaches with a wider range of experience and knowledge can help spur both gymnast and coaches on.
I’m going to keep a special eye out on Malaysia this year. The first competition that we should expect to see Malaysian gymnasts taking part in is the Cottbus Cup in Germany at the end of March. As yet no gymnasts have been named.
Image of Tracie Ang via Getty Images.