Kah Mun's on a roll

Rhythmic gymnast Tong Kah Mun has enjoyed a successful 12 months at home and on the international stage.

She (above) experienced top-class competition when she represented Singapore at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last July, and five months later, won one gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the ASEAN School Games, becoming the Republic's first winner in the individual all-around category.

The 17-year-old Nanyang Junior College student remained peerless here, winning the individual all-around title at the Schools National A Division championships in 2014 and defending her crown this year.

It has been an exciting time for the petite teenager, but she believes June's South-east Asia (SEA) Games will be an experience like no other.

"It is definitely more exciting since it's in Singapore," said The New Paper School Sports Star Award 2014 finalist, recently.

"It is almost certain that will have more friends and family watching and supporting us; my parents don't usually follow me overseas for competitions, so it is a very good opportunity for them to catch me performing at a major Games."

One can understand her excitement, as she will make her SEA Games debut on home soil.

While she has done well in school competitions, Kah Mun knows the SEA Games will be a different kettle of fish.

The youngster started gymnastics when she was eight and transitioned from artistic to rhythmic when she was 12.

She has only one wish for the Games, saying: "I want to perform a very clean and well-executed routine. I made some changes last December in the way I handle the different apparatus, and so far I have been quite comfortable about it in training."


Her fellow gymnasts in the rhythmic team event are also looking to put on polished performances at the Bishan Sports Hall, despite their relative inexperience.

Coach Zhu Xiaoping said: "About half the team were promoted from the junior squad, while one of them stopped for a year or two before returning to train for the SEA Games.

"It will be difficult for us to do well but we are confident because they have trained hard and we have invested quite a bit of resources on them."

The team have been training on a routine that was specially choreographed by a Bulgarian expert last November and the group went to the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Portugal in March for experience.

Singapore Gymnastics vice-president Patrick Ho said: "They really opened their eyes to the world of rhythmic gymnastics and realised they needed to put in the effort in their preparations.

"This is SG50, we also have the home ground advantage... I've told them to go out and just do their very best.

"Hopefully, we can bring in our first medal for rhythmic gymnastics in the history of the Games."


When: June 6-14

Where: Bishan Sports Hall (ticketed)

Gold medals on offer: 16

Historical medal haul: 7 golds, 14 silvers, 9 bronzes

The SEA Games squad: Daphne Theresa Chia, Tong Kah Mun, Alison Tang, Ann Sim, Dawne Chua, Edlyn Ho, Megan Chong, Noelle Goh, Ashly Lau, Janessa Dai, Kelsie Yasmin Muir, Michelle Teo, Nadine Joy Nathan, Zeng Qiyan, Aizat Muhammad Jufrie, Gabriel Gan, Gregory Gan, Hoe Wah Toon, Terry Tay, Timothy Tay

Did you know:

Nicole Tay won Singapore's first individual gold medal in the sport at the SEA Games in 2005 in the Philippines, in the floor exercise. The women's artistic team also struck gold that year.

Identical twins Tabitha and Nicole Tay shared the individual all-around gold at the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand after scoring identical scores.

TNP's prediction:

Thailand, the Philippines and, especially, Vietnam are regional powerhouses in the sport, and the composition of the women's artistic team this year is vastly different from the one that touched gold in 2011. The more experienced men's artistic team may conjure up a gold for Singapore though.


This article was first published on May 8, 2015.
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