Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tall order for male gymnasts in Glasgow

Hairi Zaid Ahmad Saruji will be leading Malaysia’s challenge at the Commonwealth Games. — filepic
Hairi Zaid Ahmad Saruji will be leading Malaysia’s challenge at the Commonwealth Games. — filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: The odds are stacked against Malaysia in the men’s artistic gymnastics competition in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games from July 23-Aug 4.

Flying the flag for Malaysia will be Hairi Zaid Ahmad Saruji, 23, and Mohd Hamza­ruddin Nordin, 20. Both are now undergoing a 40-day training stint in Kunming, China.

But with Australia, England and Canada all sending their strongest teams, it will be tough for Malaysia to get on the podium.

Naoya Tsukahara, who won an Olympic gold for Japan in the 2004 Olympics, will be leading the Australian team while Canada have two-time Olympian Nathan Gafuik.

As for England, they have 2012 London Olympic silver medallist Louis Smith. He will be joined by Max Whitlock, Kristian Thomas and Sam Oldham. The foursome along with Scotsman Daniel Purvis won the Olympic team bronze in London.

The men’s competition offers eight golds – floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, horizontal bar, all-around individual as well as the team event.

Hairi and Hamzaruddin, however, will only be competing in three or four events. Hairi’s best chance to make the final is in the floor exercise.

“It’ll be difficult for us as all the strong contenders like Australia, Canada and England are competing this time. But it’s not entirely impossible for us to get a good result” said Malaysian Gymnastics Federation deputy president and technical chairman Kau Git Kaur.

“We’re not competing in the all-around event, so Hairi and Hamzaruddin can zero in on doing their best in the three or four events that they are competing.

“The main objective is to make the apparatus finals. Gymnastics is very different as anything can happen. So if they get into the finals, they’ve got a fighting chance,” added Git Kaur.

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