Malaysian Olympic Gymnastics Star Farah Ann Abdul Hadi Retires
After announcing the news on March 12, the celebrated 27-year-old athlete shares what lies ahead for her while reflecting on the best moments of her 25 years in the sport
"After 25 amazing years in this sport, I'm finally ready to say goodbye to being a competitive gymnast. Along the way, making my dreams and goals come true, qualifying and competing in the Olympic Games, I'm so thankful to retire on my terms," shared former national artistic gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi in a social media post on March 12, 2022.
After a difficult decision that was months in the making, the inspiring 27-year-old athlete announced her retirement from the sport, following it up with the resolve to help empower and elevate the next generation of Olympic gymnasts.
In an emotional press conference in Kuala Lumpur on March 15, 2022, Farah announced plans to introduce the Farah Ann Cup in the future to showcase the talents of budding athletes in the sport.
"In staying true to myself, I'm truly grateful to have achieved everything that I thought I could do and so much more, and finally be able to step down as the future generation takes over. I'm very confident that they'll be able to keep the Jalur Gemilang flying high and I'm so proud of the team that'll come," she said.
In her own words here, she reflects on the highlights of her decorated career, which includes qualifying for her first Olympics in Tokyo in 2021.
Retiring on my own terms was important to me because... I was able to choose how and when I decided to retire. It's empowering to be able to choose my own way forward, to be able to retire at my peak and leave with grace and dignity, especially after achieving all the goals I had set for myself.
As athletes, we are constantly under extreme mental and physical pressure to compete at the highest level. At times, this can lead to unforeseen circumstances such as injuries, which can sometimes make it difficult for athletes to decide when to step down.
The top moments of my gymnastics career include... firstly, winning the team gold at the 2015 Sea Games in Singapore was particularly special because my team and I were up against many odds. We worked together and became champions after 15 years. Plus, my dad was the team manager.
The second would be winning the 2017 Sea Games Floor Exercise gold medal. Competing on my home ground was one of the most spectacular experiences, having family and friends and all the Malaysian supporters with me and hearing them cheer in the stands–it was wonderful.
Thirdly, when I found out that I qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The accumulation of all the hard work and sacrifices were worth it. Finally, I had achieved my goals and dreams for this sport.
One thing I wish could have happened differently... I would have loved to have my family at the Tokyo Olympics with me.
What I've learnt from being an athlete... Is that every setback and accomplishment has taught me something that I ultimately needed in my life, whether that be getting back on my feet, realising that I'm much stronger than I thought I was and also learning who I can count on.
It's all shaped me into the person and the gymnast that I've become.
What I hope for the next generation of gymnasts in Malaysia... That they'll see everything I’ve accomplished in this sport and know that they can achieve that as well and take it even further in the future!