MANILA: National rhythmic gymnasts Izzah Azman and Koi Sie Yan were finally declared as the SEA Games joint gold medallists of the women’s ribbon event after an initial slip-up by the organisers at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum here today.
Both gymnasts showed mesmerising skills with their satin ribbon to score an identical 15.200 points but Sie Yan was initially declared as the winner and Izzah was placed second due to the difference in the difficulty level.
However, Malaysian officials on the scene, including Olympic Council of Malaysia president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria and chef de mission Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Omardin protested against the decision, leading to both being declared joint champions.
Thailand’s Nat Kulsanawong took the bronze with 14.050 points and no silver medal was awarded for the event in the medal presentation ceremony, which was delayed for more than an hour.
It was not the first time Malaysian gymnasts have jointly won gold in one event, as Sie Yan won the gold with N. Shasangari Sivaneswari in the women’s all-around event at the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.
At the 2017 KL Games, artistic gymnasts Tan Fu Jie and Jeremiah Loo Phay Xing were declared joint winners in the men’s pommel horse.
The 19-year-old Izzah bagged two golds and a silver today.
“We managed to do our best and I think everyone deserves to win. Rhythmic gymnastics is a very subjective sport, so as an athlete our job is to perform our best and it is up to them (to decide),” Izzah said after the medal presentation ceremony.
Sie Yan, who also won the silver in the clubs apparatus, said: “It is a very proud moment to be standing on podium together as gold medalists in the same event. It is an extra gold for the country; I am very happy to share it.”
Earlier Izzah retained her ball apparatus gold by scoring 17.800 points, while Kulsanawong of Thailand (16.300) and Daniela Reggie Dela Pisa (15.600) of the Philippines won the silver and bronze respectively.
In another controversial decision, Malaysia was denied gold in the hoops apparatus when Izzah (16.500) and Amy Kwan Dict Weng (15.900) were awarded silver and bronze respectively as Daniela took the gold with 17.750, in what the Malaysian camp alleged was biased judging.
The national gymnasts concluded the competition on a high by retaining the women’s group all-around gold through Chan Mei Thung, Eu Jia Xin, Koh Jei Yi, Lee Xin Yao, Lim Chyi Ean and Shak Yuki with 40.050 points.
In the 5 balls finals, Malaysia topped the score with 22.650 points but finished second with 17.400 points behind Thailand in the three hoops plus two pairs of clubs finals to take the gold with the combined score of 40.050 points.
Thailand took the silver with 39.900 points and the Philippines secured the bronze with 29.150 points.
After making a clean sweep of all eight gold medals at stake at the KL edition’s rhythmic gymnastics, Malaysia finished this year’s campaign with four gold medals from the five events contested. — Bernama