Saturday, January 20, 2007

Case of the `missing' Commonwealth squad


THE Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSC) gymnastics meet on May 25-28
saw about 400 gymnasts taking part at the Bukit Jalil Sports School but
not a single 1998 Commonwealth Games trainee was among them.
No, they were not on strike but their "withdrawal" was made known at the
eleventh-hour which left many parents fuming.
"My daughter trained hard and was looking forward to the MSSC meet, and
the sad part was that we heard about our withdrawl from the Media. The
officials did not inform us," said a parent who declined to be named.
The Commonwealth Games trainees were supposed to compete in a special
category because in the words of MSSC organising committee secretary
Jaafar Ibrahim: "They are too advanced to compete at school level."
That was before they were told to skip the meet and concentrate on
training for three British tournaments which were around the corner.
The trainees' absence however, did not put a damper on the MSSC meet.
Ten-year-old Selangor lad Azzam Azmi was the toast of the meet after
winnning seven gold medals. He improved on his five gold and two silver
medal haul he won last year.
He won golds in the floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, high bar,
parallel bar, vaulting and the overall individual gold.
"It could have been eight, if my teammate did'nt fall ill on tournament
day," said a confident Azzam after the meet.
"It would be nice if I could take part in the Commonwealth Games, but
then I am too young and inexperienced. Maybe the next Games."
Former '98 Games trainee Rudy Amry from Pahang was the Boys' Under-18
overall winner with five golds and one silver and he is keen to get back
into the fold: "My aim is to take part in the Commonwealth Games, I will
not give up hope."
At the meet, Pahang showed their might when they won the Boys' Under-12,
Under-15 and Under-18 team titles.
In the Girls' Under-18 rhythmic gymnastics, Perak's Dorcus Lee took home
five golds in the hoops, rope, ball, individual title and overall team
After the meet Ministry of Education sports division director Ahmad
Othman said: "We hope to have a bigger pool of gymnasts for international
tournaments once the Bandar Penawar Sports School in Bukit Tinggi, Johor,
starts its term with 100 students in January 1998."
Games trainees - Boys: Nurul Azman, Zulkarnian Majid, Mohamed Fadil,
Heng Wah Jin, Onn Kwang Tung; Girls: Au Li Yen, Lim Wai Chi, Ernadia
Os'hara Omar, Che Ku Norsaadah, Yulie Fitri, Cheng Siew Ting, Zarina
Zaini, K. Kavita.