Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rhythmic gymnast Elaine says ‘I’m out’

PETALING JAYA: After months of uncertainty, rhythmic gymnast Elaine Koon has finally decided to quit the sport.

But the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary general, Datuk Sieh Kok Chi, hoped that Elaine would reconsider her decision, at least after completing her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) this year.

Kok Chi said that a short break could do her a world of good and she could return to fight for a place to represent Malaysia at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Asian Games in Incheon.

The 18-year-old Elaine was a star performer in the Malaysian contingent for the Delhi Commonwealth Games last October, bagging the first-ever individual rhythmic gymnastics’ gold medal for the country from the hoop competition.

Final decision: Elaine Koon was the star performer in gymnastics for Malaysia at the Delhi Commonwealth Games last October.
She also claimed a silver and three bronze medals and her efforts earned her RM180,000 in cash reward from the National Sports Council (NSC).

However, her relationship with national chief coach Elena Kholodova, who took her to stardom, then turned sour.

She claimed that Kholodova had mistreated her and had asked for reward while the Russian coach had expressed her disappointment over Elaine’s attitude during training and branded her as an unappreciative gymnast.

“Of course, it is up to Elaine to make a decision. But I hope that this will only be a short break for her,” said Kok Chi.

“She is sitting for the SPM this year. Also, the SEA Games in Indonesia in November offer only one medal in rhythmic gymnastics and it’s best that she takes a rest and concentrate on her examinations. I wish her all the best.

”Anyway, it will be too late for her to qualify for the Olympics next year. But she can still come back and make a bid to qualify for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

“Time can heal all wounds and ill feelings. Maybe she will be in better frame of mind after doing well in her SPM.”

In a press statement sent to The Star yesterday, Elaine stated that she has had enough.
“After much consideration, I regret to inform on my withdrawal from the elite team.
“An agreement (letter) to offer my attachment with NSC has yet to be given to me and it will no longer be necessary,” she said.

“The trust and confidence with certain parties are unfavourable, which will put me in a difficult position to continue.

“On the bright side, I can focus on my studies and recuperate from my hip and foot injuries.”
The NSC held back giving Elaine a contract because they were waiting for the latter to name a coach of her own choice to resume training.

The NSC director general, Datuk Zolkples Embong, had granted Elaine’s request on not wanting to come under the charge of Kholodova anymore.

Elaine, however, realised that all the other national coaches are under the jurisdiction of Kholodova and it would put her in an uncomfortable spot to remain in the elite squad.

She was, however, very appreciative as she recalled all the people behind her successful tenure as a gymnast.
“It is most honourable being able to raise the Malaysian flag for rhythmic gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games,” she said.

“I want to express many thanks to my parents, teachers, coaches, the Malaysian government, NSC, Malaysian Gymnastics Federation, related organisations, friends, family and everyone, who had supported me directly or indirectly.”

With Elaine out, Malaysia will be pinning hopes on either Lee Wan Nin or Amy Kwan to win honours in the SEA Games.


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