KUCHING: The Sarawak artistic gymnasts are not placing too much hopes on winning gold medals in Sukma XVIII at the Sarawak Indoor Stadium from July 26-30.
This is because key medal-getter Esmelda Arecia Menti Alfred is still undergoing rehabilitation after having an operation on a ligament in July last year.
Esmelda, now 16 years old and studying at SMK Batu Lintang, won all of Sarawak’s medals in Sukma 2013 in Kuala Lumpur and Sukma 2012 in Pahang.
In the Pahang, she won gold in the individual vault, silvers in uneven bar and balance beam and bronzes in floor exercise and team event.
In Sukma XV in Kuala Lumpur, she won the individual vault and balance beam to go with silvers in team, floor exercise and uneven bar and a bronze in the all-round.
“We are hoping that Esmelda can recover in time for Sukma XVIII and regain her old form.
“There are a few months more to go and she is still undergoing rehabilitation,” said Bulgarian coach Gergana Kostadinova Momchilova.
Esmelda is now only doing light training for two events – uneven bar and balance beam – and may be entered for three events.
“We can’t risk a further injury to her and we are trying to get her weight down.
“According to her doctor, she can only recover in nine to 12 month’s time and this is only the eighth month after the operation,” Gergana explained.
“We will be focusing on the women’s team event where we have better chances of winning medal,” she said.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Amateur Gymnastics Association president Helena Christina Wee said that Sarawak will be fielding a men’s team this year.
“The members are Ally Hamuda (SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg) and Fareez Aiman (SMK Green Road), both 14 years old and they will only be competing in the individual events as we don’t have enough gymnasts for the team event which needs five gymnasts,” she said.
Helena, also the Sukma XVIII team manager, added that the duo will be facing an uphill battle to compete against national and national back-up gymnasts who are much older and experienced.
There are two national/back-up gymnasts in Malacca, Penang and Selangor teams and one in the Pahang team.
Other members of the women’s squad are 17-year old Nur Amira Idayah (SMK Batu Lintang) who has competed in Sukma XIV and Sukma XV, and new faces 13-year-old Audrey Jude Rendih (SMK St Mary), 13-year-old Cassandra Lavigne (SMK Kuching High) and 16-year-old Dewi Nisrina (SMK Batu Lintang).
Helena said the Sarawak gymnasts will be undergoing a training camp together with the national squad at Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur from April 16-30.
“We are also planning to send them for an overseas training stint in Adelaide, Australia in May,” she said.
The state gymnasts will be undergoing centralised training in Kuching in June and July.
Presently, they are having daily training sessions for three and a half hours from every Monday to Saturday.
The trainers are also coached by another Bulgarian Bogomil Ivanov Momchilov.