SEA Games: Farah Ann prevents Vietnamese sweep

SEA Games: Farah Ann prevents Vietnamese sweep
Farah Ann Abdul Hadi of Malaysia competes during the women's floor exercise routine final on June 10.

The Vietnamese gymnastics team were on their way to a perfect end to their SEA Games campaign yesterday.

Their national anthem was practically on replay mode at Bishan Sports Hall, having secured four of the five gold medals on offer on Day 2 of the apparatus final.

But in the women's floor exercise, Malaysia's Farah Ann Abdul Hadi had other ideas.

After three bronze medals and a silver in the individual events, she finally got the gold that eluded her.

With a smile even wider than her usual flashy grin, she said: "I've been dreaming of gold in floor for a long time because it's my pet event.

"I wanted to get it as a gift for my coach (Nataliya Sinkova) for all the time we've spent together preparing.

"I was so relieved because I've been preparing for this for four years (there was no gymnastics at the 2013 Games).

"When they flashed the gold, my teammates and I burst into tears."

The 21-year-old (right) pulled off a flawless floor routine to score a 13.733, narrowly beating Indonesian Rifda Irfanalutfi's 13.700 and Vietnam's Phan Thi Ha Thanh's 13.433.

But the win did not come easy for the Malaysian, who also won a bronze medal in the beam routine earlier.

After falling on the uneven bars on Tuesday, she was devastated.

Her teammates visited her hotel room with her favourite snacks - chocolate and ice cream - to cheer her up.

She said: "I was so upset with myself because I wanted to deliver for my country and I felt like I failed so badly.

"But my teammates helped me snap out of it and told me to go for my next two events.

"This was really a team effort and I'm really thankful for them."

Yet, her sole victory was not enough to stop gymnastics gold-medal machine, Vietnam, from asserting their dominance.

Dinh Phuong Thanh, the individual all-around champion, ended the competition with four gold medals after adding the men's parallel bars and horizontal bar to his collection, with 15.833 and 14.233 scores respectively.

Dinh, who believes Vietnam are undoubtedly the gymnastics powerhouse in the region, told The New Paper: "I was confident I could win both the gold medals today because I knew I had the ability to do it.

"I'm extremely happy to have won as many medals as I did, I'm very grateful to everyone who has supported me.

"The overall performance of the team in this SEA Games was brilliant."

Compatriot Le Thanh Tung won the men's vault with a 15.000 score after two difficult vaults - a hand spring 2½ twist and a Tsukahara 2½ twist.

Phan rounded up the gold rush by wining the balance beam event with 13.966.

Said the 23-year-old: "Malaysia have a very strong women's team and each member is good too. I hold them in high regard.

"But, for now in South-east Asia, Vietnam are still No. 1."

This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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