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Artistic gymnastics take centre stage

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Team Singapore gymnast Qiyan seen here performing her routine on the uneven bars. (photo by Singapore Gymnastics)

Are you tired of watching the same sports every week, and looking to catch some unique and exciting action this weekend? In that case you should head down to Bishan Sports Hall to catch the National Championships for Artistic Gymnastics. Held on both Saturday 23rd March and Sunday 24th March, this is an event that promises somersaults, tumbles, twists and backflips to keep your adrenaline pumping.

Team Singapore athlete Lim Heem Wei made history when she became the first Singaporean gymnast to qualify for an Olympic games in 2012. Yet for all the publicity surrounding this astounding achievement, not many in Singapore are aware of the crop of incredibly talented young gymnasts that are waiting to be discovered. If you wish to be one of the first to see the next Heem Wei in action, you couldn't have picked a better time. looks at the annual National Championships, an event that covers three disciplines of gymnastics: Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics and Rhythmic Gymnastics. The Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics are both taking place this weekend, and with 23 national gymnasts set to compete in the event (10 Male Artistic Gymnasts, 13 Female Artistic Gymnasts) out of over 100 gymnasts in total, we are certainly in for a treat.

What’s the history of the National Championships for Gymnastics?

The Singapore Gymnastics National Championships is held under the aegis of Singapore Gymnastics since 2009. This year the National Championships take place over two weekends: 16-17 and 23-24 March 2013. 

The competition uses the Singapore National Programme implemented in clubs and schools since 2008. Over the years the participation of this event has grown with the number of competitors in 2013 almost doubling figures of 2011. 

What is the purpose of these Championships?

The event is a great opportunity for gymnasts to display their hard work and be officially ranked in Singapore. The event will take place at the central location of Bishan Sports Hall, the gymnastics competition venue of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

Are the National Championships for Artistic Gymnastics an apparatus challenge?

Yes, Women’s Artistic gymnasts compete on 4 apparatus: Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise. Men compete in 6 apparatus: Floor Exercise, Pommel Hose, Vault, Parallel Bars, Roman Rings and High Bar.  

The National Championships incorporates an Individual Event Final (IEF) where gymnasts compete for a medal on each specific apparatus as well as an Individual All-Around Final (IAA), where gymnasts must compete on all apparatus and their scores are added together from all apparatus – the all-around final is traditionally the more prestigious award.  In the Singapore Open competition in June/July, there is also a Team Final award.

How many gymnasts will be competing in the Artistic Gymnastics category on the weekend of 23 and 24 March?

129 Women’s Artistic Gymnasts and 19 Men’s Artistic Gymnasts will be taking part.

What is the Singapore National Programme that was implemented in clubs and schools that you talked about?

The Singapore Gymnastics National Program was developed through the help of technical consultants in 2006. It now forms the framework for the training for high performance training programme gymnasts, as well as in many clubs and schools.  The program provides an Athlete Development Pathway that encompasses both a Recreational pathway and an Elite pathway. 

For recreational gymnasts, the levels route provides a structured development that unfolds at each gymnast’s own pace. For budding elite gymnasts who have inherent potential, the stages route ensures a timely and effective progression towards the International Standard set by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG).

How does a gymnast qualify for this competition? Is there an official qualification system?

Anyone can enter – in fact we have many gymnasts from schools and clubs that enter.  There is no qualification criteria to register for the competition.

Who has been the most successful gymnast at previous meets?  Any familiar names? 

Lim Heem Wei was the outstanding performer in 2012.

What can spectators expect should they decide to attend this event?

Last weekend (16 & 17 March), during the Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championships, Singapore Gymnastics registered about 500 spectators over the weekend. Normally at Artistic Gymnastics Competition the crowd increase up to 700. The biggest selling point is during the FIG Competition, held on Saturday afternoon (14.15 until 16.30), when the Junior and Senior Gymnasts will compete. 
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