Splits and Scales: Rhythmic Gym Finals

by Karen Cuison (16A01D)

Photos by Hee Xin Wei (15S03I), Teri Tan (15A01E) and Vivian Feng (15S03K)

Additional reporting by Megan Goh (16A01D)

L-R: Chia Shing Leng, Soo Zhen, Coach Shen, Vivian Feng, Jessie Low, Lee Hui Min
L-R: Chia Shing Leng, Soo Zhen, Coach Shen, Vivian Feng, Jessie Low, Lee Hui Min

All manner of gymnastic apparati and bejewelled leotards could be observed whizzing within Bishan Sports Complex at last Friday’s National Inter-Schools Rhythmic Gymnastics finals. Our gymnasts impressed with their skill and poise, bringing home two silvers and three bronzes.

Vivian Feng nails a ball scale
Vivian Feng nails a ball scale

Rhythmic gymnastics, as defined on the Singapore Gymnastics website, is ‘a sport where individuals or teams manipulate one or two apparatus: rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon.’ At this year’s finals, our gymnasts competed individually. They married deft manipulation of their apparatus with graceful feats of acrobatic agility in a mere 90 seconds. Their performances were then assessed based on the difficulty and execution of their routines.

Chia Shing Leng ending her third-placed hoop routine with a grin
Chia Shing Leng ending her third-placed hoop routine with a grin

Chia Shing Leng’s routines were set to graceful Oriental music, and accompanied with equally graceful movements, including a number of well-executed split jumps and tricky needle pirouettes. Her enthusiasm for the sport and seemingly boundless energy were palpable even to distant spectators, which could have helped her net her podium finishes.

Jessie Low leaps to third place with her clubs routine
Jessie Low leaps to third place with her clubs routine

Jessie Low was clearly in her element during her clubs routine. Clubs routines are usually full of jumps, but Jessie had to cut back on those because of her sprained ankle. Nonetheless, she tossed her clubs – and herself – about with gusto, braving her injury to net a deserved third place. Making the achievement even more impressive was the fact that Jessie learnt her routine only one month before the competition.

Soo Zhen breezing through her ribbon routine
Soo Zhen breezing through her ribbon routine

Preparation for the competition was definitely not without its difficulties, especially since routines underwent last-minute changes. Hui Min, who finalized her clubs routine only a week before the competition, said she simply “tried to make as few mistakes as possible”. In addition, Hui Min, Soo Zhen and Vivian put up commendable performances despite having picked up rhythmic gymnastics a mere year ago. Our gymnasts also had to juggle schoolwork with their clubs. Y6 Common Tests were very close to competition season, and season meant thrice-weekly training ending past 9pm. Although the experience was stressful, as Vivian put it, “We are all really happy to have had this experience, and happy with how we did!”

Lee Hui Min executes a side scale during her hoop routine
Lee Hui Min executes a side scale during her hoop routine

Soo Zhen would like to clear up the common misconception that gymnasts’ ribbons are painless to practice with (“Most people forget about the stick!”). Another common misconception is that gymnastics is an individual sport – it is really more of a team endeavour. The unity and support everyone gained from each other was crucial to, and quite possibly, the highlight of our gymnasts’ competition experience. Shing Leng shared that “[she] wouldn’t have been able to achieve [her wins] without the support of her fellow teammates”. Just as commendable as this strong team spirit was the healthy sportsmanship on display. Many a dropped club and runaway hoop was confidently salvaged, and gymnasts were egged on by enthusiastic cheers from the audience, whether or not they were from the same school. Well done to all!

Results:

Hoop

3rd – Chia Shing Leng

Ball

3rd – Chia Shing Leng

Clubs

2nd – Chia Shing Leng

3rd – Jessie Low

Rope

2nd – Chia Shing Leng

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