THE 30th SEA Games in the Philippines got off on a rocky start and it’s still a bumpy ride.
Seventeen-year-old Shalfa Avrila Sania, an Indonesian gymnast who has won nearly 50 medals for her country since she was 8 years old, was abruptly dismissed from the SEA Games squad by her coach.
The coach claimed it was because she was no longer a virgin. According to Indonesian news portal iNews Jatim, Shalfa’s family was outraged by the sudden dismissal and how the claim tarnished her reputation and dignity.
“The coach said my daughter always goes out late with her male friends and their interrogation showed she was no longer a virgin,” said Shalfa’s mother, Ayu Kurniawati in an interview with local media.
In a bid to clear their daughter’s name, the family took Shalfa for a medical checkup to confirm that her hymen is indeed intact. The report was sent to the Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sports to protest her dismissal.
When the media pressed further, the Ministry’s spokesperson Gatot S. Dewa Broto claimed that the dismissal was based on disciplinary and performance issues. He did not deny the possibility that the coach made a mistake.
“We will take firm action if the athlete was sent back due to questions over her virginity because this is a matter of privacy, dignity and has nothing to do with performance, ” he said.