Can Izzah Amzan deliver in Sofia next month?
By Amiril Muttaqien Meketar
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 (Bernama) -- Can national gymnast Izzah Amzan do the unthinkable in the 39th Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, next month?
On paper, it may seem Izzah would not go far in Bulgaria despite winning bronze in the clubs discipline in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games recently.
A mammoth task lies ahead of Izzah as the challenge in Bulgaria is far greater than at the quadrennial Games, as several world-class gymnasts are scheduled to take part in the tournament, including from the host country, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Japan.
However, the new national rhythmic gymnast sensation, Ng Joe Ee, said she has faith in Izzah to shine in Sofia.
“I believe Izzah will do well in Bulgaria,” she told Bernama.
Joe Ee, who stole the limelight after securing two golds - in ball and ribbon disciplines - in the Birmingham Games, did not feel gutted for not being able to prove her mettle in Bulgaria.
The 16-year-old athlete explained that she could not compete in the world meet because she needs to put full focus on her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination next March.
Asked on her next tournament, the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Puteri Titiwangsa student said she would take part in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, next year.
“I just hope to reach the final in the Asian Games,” she added.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) honorary secretary Afrita Ariany Nasril hoped Izzah would improve her ranking and be among the top 50 in Bulgaria.
The 21-year-old finished in 67th place when she made her debut in the 2018 edition and improved her position to 57th a year later.
After replacing two Russian coaches in Birmingham, Afrita said she would most likely continue her role as a coach in Bulgaria.
The former national gymnast said the two Russians might have run into a visa snag in their bid to accompany Izzah in Sofia.
The two were recently barred from entering the United Kingdom for the Commonwealth Games.
They are believed to have been affected by entry restrictions imposed by the UK government on Russian citizens following the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
As such, the Malaysian gymnastics camp had no choice but to fly Afrita and local coach Lim Win Chean to Birmingham to coach and manage the national rhythmic gymnasts.