SEA Games 2017, Aug 19-30: 2 days to go

Gymnastics: Sze En awaits medical verdict

Tan Sze En on her way to winning the individual gold medal at the 8th Asean Schools Games in Chiang Mai in July last year. The teenager is regarded as a key member of the women's artistic gymnastics team.
Tan Sze En on her way to winning the individual gold medal at the 8th Asean Schools Games in Chiang Mai in July last year. The teenager is regarded as a key member of the women's artistic gymnastics team.ST FILE PHOTO

Doctors to decide today whether ankle injury will rule teenager Sze En out of her first SEA Games

Gymnast Tan Sze En will find out this morning whether months of intensive training will come to nought as doctors decide if she is fit enough to fly to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.

The 16-year-old, who had been hoping to make her SEA Games debut, suffered a serious ankle injury on Tuesday - less than a week before the start of the biennial competition.

Singapore Gymnastics' general manager Karen Norden said: "Sze En and the team are prepared for both (scenarios). It's in the hands of the medical personnel, who will be telling us."

Sze En, who is based in the United States, was the all-around champion at last year's Singapore Open Gymnastics Championships. She is regarded as a key member of the women's artistic gymnastics team, who are bidding to win their first gold in the event since 2011.

Gymnastics was not on the Games programme in 2013.

However, Norden was confident that should Sze En be ruled out of the Games, her absence would have minimal impact on the rest of the team and their overall morale.

The Australian said the team can still rely on the maturity and experience of 2014 Youth Olympic Games gymnast Nadine Joy Nathan, 17, Kelsie Muir, 18, and Zeng Qiyan, 19.

The trio competed at the last edition of the SEA Games, where Singapore won a silver medal on home soil, while the other two members of the team, Mei Togawa, 16, and Colette Chan, 17, are debutants.

In the team competition, the four best individual scores for each apparatus (floor exercise, uneven bars, balance beam and vault) are counted towards the total score.

Norden insisted that "no adjustments" and "no changes" have been made since Tuesday.

She said: "We have quite a mature team. All the girls are prepared to compete in all four apparatus."

Norden also believes that this episode will not derail Sze En's promising career.

She said: "The SEA Games is an important benchmark in an athlete's journey. But the disappointment (of missing it) will be momentary. The bigger picture of going beyond the SEA Games is what we're looking at.

"If she was on the way to qualifying for the Olympics via the last qualifying event, a World Championships or just prior to the actual Olympics (and then suffer an injury), then that would have been a setback.

"She's a young gymnast and she's got a long career ahead of her. This might be just a pause, or a comma, not a bump, in her journey."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Gymnast awaits medical verdict'. Print Edition | Subscribe