SINGAPORE - Gold medallist gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi does not deserve flak for wearing standard approved leotards in her winning routine, said the country's contingent head.
Malaysia SEA Games chef de mission Datuk Norza Zakaria is the latest Malaysian to defend the athlete.
Norza said Farah Ann had won multiple medals, including two golds, for the team.
"For me, Abdul Hadi's daughters Farah Ann and Katrina have done so much for the country. Both of them won a total of six medals for the contingent and they don't deserve that kind of treatment.
"I think everyone should give them the credit they deserve, rather than saying things that do not help," he said yesterday.
Malaysian Gymnastics Federation secretary N. Shanmugarajah said: "The leotards our gymnasts wear are FIG (International Federation of Gymnastics) approved and you have to wear them if you want to compete."
Despite winning two golds, one silver and two bronzes, Farah Ann's best achievement to date had been marred by criticism over her attire.
In what seemed like a response, the 21-year-old tweeted that "empty cans make the most noise" before thanking everyone who had supported her. "I appreciate it so much. Love you all," she said.
Farah Ann also retweeted a posting that said: "How silly can people get?"
Tweets continued to pour in, encouraging her to ignore her critics.
"Ignore the haters and enjoy the moment," Far Han posted in response to Farah Ann's tweet.
Amir Zamri wrote: "Just be yourself. Ignore all the harsh comments about you. Most of us still support you."
"Thanks for making Malaysia proud at the Games. That's all that matters. You go girl!" Adam Sanwar said.
A user known as Aryssa Fahmy said: "So what do you expect her to wear? A baju kurung to do all those stunts?"
Social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir said the attacks against Farah Ann were a sign of how the country was in danger of being overtaken by "stupidity".
"No, I don't think we'll be a Taliban state yet. We'll be a stupid state first," Marina was reported to have said at a panel discussion at the Cooler Lumpur Festival yesterday.
When contacted later, Marina said she wanted to highlight through her comments how some people were only interested in finding fault instead of celebrating achievements.
"To them, a person cannot be allowed to succeed. They must be pulled down for no real reason," she said.
She also challenged Farah Ann's detractors to reflect on themselves before finding fault in others.
In her Facebook page post yesterday, Marina asked: "So, those people who spend their time looking at athlete's private parts, what exactly have they done to bring glory to their country?"
However, Perak mufti Tan Sri Dr Harussani Zakaria reportedly said that gymnastics was not meant for Muslim women as they would be showing their aurat and body shape, which was clearly against Islamic teachings.
"If they still want to take part, gymnasts must wear clothes that cover their aurat, which may not be suitable for the sport," he said.
He added that this applied to other sports such as football, where male players should wear shorts that extended past their knees.