Going for Gold

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Gymnast extraordinaire, Farah Ann Hadi, shares with Top 10 of Malaysia how her childhood hyperactivity led her from a humble gym in Shah Alam to winning gold medals in championships around the world.

National gymnast, Farah Ann Hadi, made Malaysians proud with her double gold, one silver and three bronze medals win at the recent SEA Games 2015. “It was definitely an important milestone in my career. It made all the hard work and years of training worthwhile,” says Farah, a middle child with two sisters. Her foray in gymnastics began when she was just three with her elder sister Katrina who was five. “I was a hyperactive child and my parents thought that gymnastics was a great place to release all that energy and to develop my athletic skills. They placed us at a gym in Shah Alam where I started training,” she reveals.

Farah went on to win ten gold medals in Singapore Open 2013, SUKMA KL 2013, Singapore Open 2014, Hong Kong Open 2015 and of course at SEA Games 2015. Obviously, winning the gold medals felt fantastic, but one of her most memorable moments happened during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where she got 11th place in the Individual All-Around (IAA) finals. “It was the moment that helped me believe in myself; it gave the push I needed to continue striving in gymnastics and to grow to greater heights,” says the 21-year-old lass. Another memorable moment was when she won the bronze medal after falling in the SEA Games 2015 Uneven Bar finals. “It taught me about defeat and acceptance. I learned how to get back on my feet and to move on and train harder to pursue my other goals.”

Like any other athletes, gymnasts need to possess extreme fitness, skills, strength, agility and flexibility. Additionally, they are required to have great balance, control, coordination and grace. All these are developed over time through discipline, dedication and countless of hours spent in training with skilled coaches. And as in other sports, gymnastics come with the risk of injuries. Farah recently suffered a fracture on her spine and a ligament tear on her shoulder which needed about six months of recovery time. “I had to take time off from training to focus on physiotherapy and rehabilitation so that I can get back into shape and start competing again,” she explains. “This takes a lot of time and patience, which we can’t afford to have in sports sometimes due to competitions.”

Even after finding success in gymnastics, Farah is equally committed to completing a bachelor’s degree in arts majoring in International Studies and minoring in Communications at Monash University. In her spare time, the certified scuba diver enjoys reading novels and going to the beach. She looks up to champion squash player Datuk Nicol David who is an inspiring athlete and a well-rounded individual. And like her hero, Farah is equally strong-willed and dedicated in her athletic profession as well as leading a healthy lifestyle.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Farah has set her sights on qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio and to defend or better her achievements at the SEA Games 2017 that will be held in Malaysia. Farah has this advice for aspiring athletes: “Set your goals high and always strive to be the best that you can be. Never give up when the going gets tough because that’s when you’ll discover your greatest capabilities. Most importantly, always believe in yourself.”

Issue 24/2016

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