Asean Schools Games: Malaysia sweep rhythmic gymnastics golds as Izzah Amzan stars

Malaysia's Izzah Binti Amzan won the gold medal for Clubs and Ribbon in Rhythmic Gymnastics.
Malaysia's Izzah Binti Amzan won the gold medal for Clubs and Ribbon in Rhythmic Gymnastics.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Malaysia were a class above the rest of the field as they completed a clean sweep of six gold medals in the rhythmic gymnastics competition at the Asean Schools Games.

SEA Games-bound gymnast Izzah Amzan, 17, won the clubs and ribbon events on Wednesday (July 19) to bring her tally to four golds.

On Tuesday, she won the team and all-around titles.

After finishing runner-up to team-mate Rayna Hoh in the ball and hoop finals on Wednesday morning at Bishan Sports Hall, Izzah ended her campaign on a high.

In the clubs final, the student from Bukit Jalil Sports School scored 14.717 points to pip Rayna (14.534) to gold. Thailand's Thanyaphat Sungvornyothin (12.550) won bronze.

In the ribbon final, Izzah scored 13.617 points to beat Thanyaphat (13.300) and Malaysian Chong Lok Yi (12.217).

Despite their dominant performance in Singapore, Izzah and Lok Yi have little time to celebrate. They will miss tomorrow's closing ceremony at the Universal Studios Singapore because they will return to Kuala Lumpur to prepare for the SEA Games.

Izzah will be making her debut at the biennial meet, where hosts Malaysia are eager to sweep all eight gold medals on offer in the sport.

The youngest of three children, she had just one day of rest last month during the Hari Raya, meaning that her family could not travel back to Sabah to spend the holidays with her grandmother.

Despite having booked her air tickets, Izzah also had to forgo a family holiday to South Korea last December due to national team training commitments.

Under the watch of eight foreign coaches from Russia, Uzbekistan, Japan, Kazakhstan and Georgia, the Malaysian national squad trains six times a week, which includes ballet training in the morning from 7am to 8.30am.

Izzah's mother, Zira Amzan, joked: "She has no friends, and she has no life."

But Izzah does not mind that she is missing out on what her peers are enjoying.

She said: "This is the life which an athlete has to go through. But it's OK because I have to get ready for the SEA Games.

"With the SEA Games just around the corner, I know that I still need to improve because I made some silly mistakes on the hoop and ball. I'll need to polish my routines and I just hope to do a cleaner routine."

Petrina Low, the vice-president of the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation, has already noted what Izzah needs to work on when she returns to Malaysia.

Low said: "I'm going to work on Izzah's mentality, which is still weak. I expected them to win this competition, and their results are a boost for the SEA Games."