FARAH Ann Hadi would not have qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if not for her determination, perseverance, hard work and never-say-die attitude.
And this was affirmed by national artistic gymnastics coach Ng Shu Wai.
On Saturday, Farah Ann, 25, became the first Malaysian artistic woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics after 20 years when she finished 16th out of 20 in the qualifying session of the individual all-around event at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
Farah Ann is only the third Malaysian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics, after Au Li Yen in 2000 (Sydney) and Shu Wai in 2004 (Athens).
According to Shu Wai, everything did not just fall from the sky for Farah Ann.
In fact, it has been a long and hard journey, one full of sweat and tears.
“I am extremely proud and happy for Farah Ann because I know how hard she has been working for this.
“As an Olympian myself, I know what it’s like because it’s every athlete’s dream to compete in the Olympics. This is why we do what we love.
“I was there when Farah Ann missed out on the 2016 Rio Games by a small margin and how disappointed she was.
“Coach Nataliya (Sinkova) and I spent a lot of time talking and motivating her to not give up on her dreams.
“And she has made everyone proud. It’s all her determination, perseverance, hard work and never-say-die attitude that got her to where she is right now,” Shu Wai told Timesport yesterday.
Shu Wai added that gymnastics has never been an easy sport for Malaysians to qualify, but admitted that the trend is slowly changing.
“When Li Yen and I were competing, it was really tough because the rules set by FIG (gymnastics world governing body) were such.
“Now it's slightly better, but it is still tough for Malaysians because we do not have a team and therefore can only have one athlete in the Games.
“This does not mean the rest of our gymnasts are not good.
“I'm sure the rest like Tracie Ang and Tan Ing Yueh will return home disappointed but I want to tell them that they all did great.
“This is not the end of the world, and they should never give up. I am equally proud for them as I am for Farah Ann,” he said.
Now that she has qualified for next year's Olympics, Farah Ann and her teammates will now focus on the Philippines Sea Games in December.
The National Sports Council (NSC) have set a one-gold target for the artistic squad.
At the 2017 Kuala Lumpur edition, Farah Ann inspired the national women's squad to three gold medals.