The clock is ticking. Displaying a mesmerising combination of a physical agility, strength, and stamina, she executes her jumps, her body a vision of athletic grace on the 10cm-wide, 5m-long balance beam, a look of concentration on her face. Finally, she lands on the floor with a perfectly executed twist and jump, a wide smile on her face.
One can only imagine the breadth of exertions and emotions that an artistic gymnast like Farah Ann Abdul Hadi goes through during a competition— all that training culminating in executing that one flawless performance, which lasts only one and a half minutes. They live and breathe for this, with the goal of being the best they can be.
Road to the Olympics
It’s every athlete’s dream to compete at the Olympics, and for 26-year-old Farah Ann, it’s a dream come true when she finally earned her spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the big disappointment of missing out on the 2016 Rio Games by a mere 0.1 margin.
But then Covid happened and the Tokyo Games had to be postponed to 2021. Despite feeling disappointed, Farah took it as a blessing in disguise. She’s been in an endless series of competitions including the Olympic qualifiers in Germany and the SEA Games in the Philippines that she simply had no time to let her body have a rest. “I was having shoulder injuries that I’ve been putting off getting treatment for but with the postponement, I had the chance to heal my shoulder and now I’m feeling a whole lot better as I don’t have pain when I train.”
Throughout the forced lockdown, Farah and her fellow athletes kept on with their training and workouts at the national training centre in Bukit Jalil to keep them motivated, healthy and fit to perform at a high level at the Olympics.
For Farah, this hard-won accomplishment is the highlight of her 23-year-long career and is also her family’s triumph. “This meant that all the time, sacrifice and pain that I went through means something. And being able to repay my parents for all the sacrifices they’ve made and to make them proud is what I cherish the most out of this experience. Hopefully, they are able to be there and watch me perform because I am doing this for them. To have them there and experience the Olympic dream with me is the best thing that I can do to show them how much I appreciate them.”