Sinkova confident Farah Ann will have company in Tokyo

by BLOOMBERG/ pic by BLOOMBERG

NATIONAL artistic gymnastics coach Natalya Sinkova is optimistic that another Malaysian gymnast will make the cut for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in July.

The Ukrainian-born coach revealed that the ninth Senior Asian Championships, slated to be held in Tokyo, Japan, from May 2-5, would be the last platform for the national gymnasts to vie for a ticket to the Olympics, adding that only top two gymnasts in the all-round events from the competition would earn a shot to the quadrennial games.

“Definitely, I want to see more Malaysian gymnasts taking part at the Olympics. Prior to this, it was just a dream, but with Farah Ann Abdul Hadi (picture) qualifying, I believe more Malaysian gymnasts can do it.

“Before this, we have seen two Malaysian gymnasts (Tan Ing Yueh and Tracie Ang) winning gold medals in the World Challenge Cup in 2016, and of course, it was a major boost for our ladies to chase Olympics slots,” she told Bernama recently.

Prior to the Asian meet, Sinkova said the national gymnastics squad, including Farah Ann, will take part in several competitions as part of their preparations for the 2020 Olympics, while revealing that the National Sports Council have agreed to foot the expenses of those trips.

The meets include the EnBW DTB-Pokal Team Challenge from March 20-22 in Stuttgart, Germany; Ukrainian International Cup in Kiev, Ukraine (March 28-29) and the Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup in Mersin, Turkey, from June 26-28.

“We don’t have new elements to show especially in the team events, but I do hope that our gymnasts will do well in all the competitions despite the European countries being very strong.

“As for the Ukrainian Cup, we had won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals last year, so I hope our gymnasts can retain the medals as it involves many countries,” added Sinkova.

Farah Ann became the first Malaysian female artistic gymnast to qualify for the Olympics after 20 years when she finished 16th out of 20 in the qualifying session of the individual all-around event at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

In doing so, Farah Ann became only the third Malaysian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics after Au Li Yen in 2000 (Sydney) and Ng Shu Wai in 2004 (Athens).