Reaching for glory

IF YOU'VE ever wondered what is national artistic gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi’s current favourite movie, it is the much-talked-about musical, The Greatest Showman.

The nation's darling, who will be turning 24 in May – and who counts indulging in cake as a guilty pleasure – has certainly been busy perfecting her sport, despite not considering herself a perfectionist.

Find out what it's like to be a strong athlete, Farah's goals for 2018, and how she balances personal life and work.

You're considered a role model, especially for young girls. How does it feel dealing with the pressure of being 'perfect', while still enjoying the freedom of being yourself?

Thank you for the kind words. However, for me, I do not feel the need to be perfect, because everyone is different and I just opt to be myself and try my very best to be the best version of me.

Did you ever expect your love for artistic gymnastics to flourish and turn into the level of success that it is now?

I started gymnastics when I was three years old. To me, it was just something that I loved doing, and as I grew it became my passion.

I knew from very young that I wanted to be a gymnast and represent my country, and so I trained hard to be able to accomplish this. I believe that at each stage, I just wanted to push myself to achieve more.

Was there a defining moment in your life where you realised artistic gymnastics was what you wanted to pursue?

It was more of [how] each competition or each new skill and training session [made] me realise I wanted to push myself and excel in my sport.

Do you have any other interests that you'd like to pursue after a career in sports?

I would like to travel ... and see the seven wonders of the world.

Since you achieved so much last year, especially with the SEA Games, what are your goals for 2018?

My goal for this year is to qualify for finals in both the Commonwealth Games in Australia, and the Asian Games in Indonesia.

How is a typical day like for you?

A typical day now for me since I have graduated from university is a double session training. So, a morning gym session, and then afternoon gymnastics session.

Plus, recovery sessions as well.

A lot of people often underestimate gymnastics as a sport, and how much work goes into it. Can you share your fitness routine, and how does it differ when you're training for a competition?

When I am training for a competition, the training sessions get a lot more vigorous and hard, because we have to get into optimum shape.

I have training sessions six days a week, three [of which are] double sessions.

During double sessions, I will have a morning gym session, which consists of weight and cardio training [for] about one-and-a-half hours.

In the afternoon, I will have my gymnastics session, which consists of physical training and gymnastics training, [and] can go up to four hours.

Do you ever experience performance anxiety? If so, how do you overcome it?

Yes, I do. Usually at a very big competition. I will do visualisation and breathing exercises to calm myself down, as well as give myself a pep talk.

I usually just tell myself to believe in myself, and now is the time to go out there and just enjoy because I have already prepared for it.

Who are your inspirations in life that drive you to succeed?

My inspiration comes from my goals that I set for myself and I know that every step I take leads me closer to where I want to go and what I want to achieve.

What's your idea of de-stressing, and how do you enjoy your free time?

For me, to de-stress is to take a nice long bath and read a good book, or watch a couple episodes of a series that I'm currently enjoying.

If I have a longer period of time, [maybe] a trip to the beach.

During my free time, which is usually on a Sunday, I either stay home and spend time with my family or I catch a movie.