ARTISTIC gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi had her charming smile on as as she stepped into the arena – and during all her moves.
The Filipino crowd responded by cheering. “Farah, Farah, ” they chanted as she went about her routines.And Farah did not let the crowd down at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Malate, Manila.
She won her first ever individual all-around SEA Games gold medal with a score of 48.050, taking her SEA Games tally to five golds.
Farah was in her element in the vault and uneven bar and had looked poised to win the individual all-around gold although Indonesian lass Rifda Irfanaluthfi also produced a near-flawless routine in both to stay close behind.
In the balance beam, Farah’s smile faded when she fell on her first skill. Nervousness was now evident in her face.
The 25-year-old’s balance beam routine was not the best, and she could be seen grimacing and had to be consoled by coaches Ng Shu Wai and Nataliya Sinkova. At this point, her all-around score was 35.350.
Farah needed to be in her element in the floor exercise, and she knew it would not be easy as Rifda is the Asian Games silver medallist.
But Farah, buoyed by the crowd, was again in her element as she scored 12.500 to Rifda’s 12.100.
With the total score of 48.050, the individual all-around SEA Games gold medal, introduced only at the last minute, was Farah’s. Rifda collected 47.800 to win silver.
Another Malaysian Tan Ing Yueh completed the podium by collecting 46.900 points to win bronze.
For Farah, this was one of the sweetest victories in her career.
“This is my first gold in the individual all-around. The last time it was contested in Singapore, I only won silver. This is close to my heart. I dreamt of this for a long time, ” said Farah.
“I would like to thank my coaches and family for this victory. Every time I come into a competition. I just want to do my best.
“I did make a mistake in the balance beam. That’s why this medal means so much more.
“Even with the mistake, I could overcome it and do my best in the floor exercise.”
The individual all-around event was not in the Games but the organisers decided to include it in the 11th hour.
“In the World Championships, we took part in the individual all-around, so we were kind of prepared.
“When they made the last-minute decision, Ing Yueh and I were ready, ” she said.
Farah was happy with the fans.
“The crowd here is amazing. As an athlete, you want this. In other competitions, we don’t get this much cheer, but in Manila, I was taken by surprise.”
Today, she will be taking part in the vault and uneven bar final.
“I finished first in the qualifying for the uneven bar, and I hope to maintain that in the final.”