KUCHING: The Sarawak artistic gymnastics team are facing a tough challenge to win gold medals at Sukma XIX from Sept 12 to 22.
This is because its best gold medals prospect Esmelda Arecia Menti Alfred Geling has not fully recovered from an injury and is only entered for two events – uneven bars and balance beam.
The 18-year old double-gold medallist and best female athlete at the Kuala Lumpur Sukma in 2013 is now training under the national ‘Kita Juara’ programme in Kuala Lumpur.
“Another athlete Ally Hamuda Abdullah, who is our sole representative in the Male Artistic Gymnastic (MAG) events, is also nursing an injury that limits his participation to the still ring, pommel horse and parallel bars.
“Two athletes Audrey Jude Rendih Alexander and Cassandra Lavigne Shelden, both 15 years old, will be sitting for their PT3 while the other two Damya Dameerah Suhaimi and Alya Sofiya Abdul Razak will be sitting for their UPSR this year.
“It will be hard for them to perform in Perak if they are not focused and well disciplined enough in their training,” said assistant chef-de-mission for gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic) and hockey Datin Mary Sadiah Zainuddin.
“I went to the rhythmic gymnastics training and control test last week and from what I saw, it will be very hard for us to win gold medals.
“So far the training is for both teams is ongoing well. We are doing our best and it is a few more days before they leave for Kuala Lumpur to train in Bukit Jalil before they depart to Perak,” she said while visiting the state team at Sarawak Gymnasium, Petra Jaya yesterday.
Mary was accompanied by team manager Helena Christine Wee who is the president of Sarawak Amateur Gymnastics Association and MSNS coordinator for artistic gymnastics Dedia Sarini Ahmad.
“We do not have any gold medal target despite the chef-de-mission Datuk Snowdan Lawan setting a four-gold target based on the previous Sukma performance.
“It is very difficult to set the gold medals target and we are only hoping for the best and that they will perform and win some medals of other colours.
“We are looking at bronze medals but that will not help us win the 19th Sukma overall title.
“As for our rhythmic gymnasts, they are all very new and young. Moreover, they have to compete with national gymnasts and we are up against strong states like Selangor and Kuala Lumpur while Perak have many good gymnasts,” said Mary.
The members of the rhythmic gymnastics team are Joannia Teo Tee Tze, Sacrlet Yuki Chan Yeei Han, Toh Xian Yong, Alaaena Lao Lik Phin, Joan Chai Rou Yan and Alicia Lee Yan Ting.
Managing the team is Yong Liew Chiang while the coaches are Anastassiya Voronova and Low Fai Jun.