Gymnastics: Losing four kgs worth it for coach Yulia after watching Joe Ee’s stunning feat

RUSSIAN coach Yulia Ivanova lost four kilos in the last few weeks.

But it was all worth it as she watched her young charge Ng Joe Ee, who is nicknamed kangaroo in the rhythmic gymnastics fraternity for her strong legs, jump her way to two gold medals in the ball and ribbon events on Saturday in the Commonwealth Games.

“Joe Ee earned the moniker kangaroo from a judge who was very impressed with her in an international competition. She has these explosive movements about her,” said Yulia.

“She can fix the shape of her jumps well and the amplitude in her jumps is also remarkable.”

It was her aggressive and strong yet elegant performances that won the judges’ hearts.

Yulia admitted that it was disappointing that she was not with Joe Ee in Birmingham when the Form Five student emerged as the most successful gymnast in only her first Commonwealth Games outing with the two golds.

Yulia and another coach Lidia Legotina had visa issues due to restrictions imposed on Russian citizens over the Russia-Ukraine conflict and in their absence, two officials – Afrita Ariany Nasril and Chrystal Lim Win Chean (coach) – were brought in to accompany Joe Ee and two other seniors Koi Sie Yan and Izzah Amzan.

“We had three girls in this important competition, and we were to deliver one gold medal as per the KPI set by the National Sports Council (NSC). Obviously, Lidia and I were disappointed about not being there,” said Yulia.

“Prior to the Games, we went for a training camp in Baku, Azerbaijan (after the SEA Games in late May) and competed in a few competitions in Europe.

“When the visa was not issued for us, the three girls suddenly had to train with the local coaches but we tried to do remote coaching from Malaysia.

“Three devices were switched on at each training session – we would watch the training, relay our messages back to the coaches and gymnasts there. It wasn’t easy as there were connectivity problems; it just became more frustrating on all sides, but we managed.

Yulia admitted there was mounting pressure after Joe Ee, Sie Yan and Izzah finished fourth in the team event and were out of medal contention in the individual events too.

“We had to ensure that the girls were in the right mindset. Due to the time difference, we could only speak to them in the wee hours of the morning (KL time) after they had their training, meals and massage, and recovery programs,” she said.

“Lidia, technical delegate Petrina (Low) and I didn’t have enough sleep because we had to ensure that everything was carried out as normal as possible despite us not being there. I lost 4kg during this period.”

Moving forward, Yulia said they planned to elevate the standard of the gymnasts to perform better at next year’s Asian Games, Asian and World Championships and the next Commonwealth Games.

“Joe Ee has high difficulty values ​​and the focus will be on minimizing her execution mistakes,” said Yulia.

“Despite just being 16 plus, she showed good mental strength and calmness during competition. She is young and has a long way to go in this sport. While she has won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, the main thing is for her to remain grounded and focused on the next goal.

“Izzah is very experienced and has a lovely expression, and is very clean in her execution of routines.

“She had knee surgery earlier in the year and it wasn’t easy for her, but she managed to come back and show that she is capable of competing at the highest level. Her performances at these Games were remarkable considering what she had gone through.

“As for Sie Yan (who trains under Lidia), she is also a very experienced gymnast and I was happy that she improved her performances on the final day,” added Yulia, who started as a state coach in 2000 before being moved up to the national team in 2007.


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