Khaw Choon Ean presenting a copy of her book ‘Khaw Choon Ean’s Guide to Rhythmic Gymnastics’ to Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tunku ImranTunku Ja’afar at the book launch at Wisma Olympic Council of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Pic by S. Sugumaran

KUALA LUMPUR: NINE months went into writing and compiling Khaw Choon Ean’s Guide to Rhythmic Gymnastics, the first book on Malaysian rhythmic gymnastics that was launched at the Hall of Fame in Wisma Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) here yesterday.

The author, Khaw Choon Ean, who was instrumental in training some 600 people in the field over the past 20 years, said the book involved sourcing pictures from around the world and Malaysia.

The difficult part was reconnecting with former gymnasts and getting their pictures, said Khaw, the inaugural recipient of the OCM Women and Sports Award and the International Olympic Committee Woman and Sports Achievement Diploma 2004 for her contributions to rhythmic gymnastics.

She was also an international judge during her heyday.

The most meaningful part of writing the book, Khaw said, was putting the history of the sport into perspective.

“I had to unearth everything I kept in the last three decades and write it down.”

Khaw ran a gymnastic club between 1989 and 2009, where she trained the country’s best gymnasts.

“Now, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the sport.”

She said she was encouraged by MPH Masterclass Series editors to come out with a book detailing the history of the sport and the people she had known over the years.

After publishing this book, the first book with MPH Group Publishing, Khaw secured another contract to write and illustrate two children’s books and another on Asian folk tales. This was a dream come true as she had been interested in illustrating.

Her earlier writings included two children’s novels and columns she wrote for the New Straits Times in 2004 and 2005.

Khaw said the Malaysian gymnastics scene was healthy because of the facilities and support.

“If there are any shortcomings, it would be human influence like parental interference, and the relationship between coaches and gymnasts.”

Khaw’s fondest memory of Malaysian rhythmic gymnastics was when Faiznur Miskin won five gold medals for the team and individual events at the 1989 Sea Games.

“The 1989 Sea Games was my first multi-sports event. The most memorable part was when we were waiting to march into the sports arena in Kuala Lumpur.

“There was pride, fear and excitement.”

Khaw advised would-be gymnasts to enjoy what they were doing.

“My philosophy even when I was coaching was to love the sport because once you love the sport, it all becomes easier. You must develop that passion. Some children go into it because their parents want them to.”

Khaw’s book, available at all major bookstores, is priced at RM35.90 per copy.