GYMNASTICS IN KL 98 GAMES WILL BE LONG REMEMBERED
KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Sept 98 (Bernama):
BY Mohd Kamel Othman
Australia again maintained its dominance in gymnastics but the 16th Commonwealth Games which ended yesterday will be long remembered for the historic moments it produced at Putra Stadium, the venue for rhythmic and artistic gymnastics.
First, the Malaysian rhythmic gymnasts won the team gold, the country's first in gymnastics in Commonwealth Games history.
The quartet of El Regina Tajudin, Thye Chee Kiat, Carolyn Au-Yong and Sarina Sundarajah did the nation proud with their excellent achievement in front of a capacity crowd.
Before the start of the competition, the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) was very modest with its target -- a bronze in rhythmic gymnastics.
However, the rhythmic gymnastics team performed beyond expectation to pip defending champions Canada to the gold. Chee Kiat also won a silver in the hoop and a bronze in rope while Carolyn took bronze in ribbon.
Malaysia fared badly in their two previous appearances in the Games. In the 1990 Games in Auckland, Malaysia was represented by Faiznur Miskin while Farah Zellinah Kemal was the flagbearer in the Victoria Games.
Australia's Andrei Kravtsov, a former circus artiste, won three gold medals in the apparatus events.
This was the first time an athlete has swept three gold medals in the apparatus events of artistic gymnastics at the Games. The previous best was two by Canadian Curtis Hibbert in 1990.
The Georgian-born Kravtsov won on the parallel bars, floor exercise and pommel horse. The 27-year-old gymnast also took the individual all-around title and was part of their silver medal winning team.
Kravtsov's triumph in the individual all-around was also Australia's first. Their previous bests were silvers in the 1978 and 1994 Games.
Another gymnast who stole the limelight was Canada's Erika-Leigh Stirton.
She made a clean sweep of the five individual gold medals -- in rope, hoop, clubs, ribbon and individual all-around in rhythmic gymnastics.
Other gold winners in the women's artistic apparatus events were Lisa Skinner (uneven bars), Trudy McIntosh (balance beam), Lisa Mason (vault) and Zeena McLaughlin (all-around), all from Australia, and England's Annika Reeder (floor exercise).
The Australian women's team also won the gold in the artistic team event while England took the gold in the men's team event.
In the men's artistic gymnastics, gold medal winners include Australia's Pavel Mamine (rings), South Africa's Simon Hutcheon (vault) and Canada's Alexander Jeltkov (high bar). -- BERNAMA