Gymnasts need a gymnasium

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 June, 2004, 12:00am

As a member of the Hong Kong gymnastics team, I would like to address areas of concern regarding the loss of our gymnasium at the Hong Kong Sports Institute.

Gymnastics is a sport which is extremely dangerous and much of a gymnast's safety relies solely upon equipment, such as crash mats, landing mats and, most importantly, the pit.

The pit is filled with cube-shaped sponges for the purpose of landing. It is vital because gymnastics is linked to the concept of trial and error. Whenever I learn a new movement, I do not expect it to always be successful.

Many of my exercises rely on a pit, and this applies to all gymnasts. I must stress this because in Hong Kong (unlike swimming and track and field), there are no other alternatives which compare with the facilities at our current gymnasium.

I am very disappointed by the way the government has been dealing with this issue. It is unreasonable that they have not kept to their word, that until another fully equipped gymnasium is built, we would not have to leave.

Why does one sport need to suffer at the expense of another? Because gymnastics is not an emphasised scholarship sport, doesn't mean it is less significant. I thought the government was supposed to promote sports, not force them into extinction! The government should be sponsoring less-achieving sports such as gymnastics so they can be further improved.

I am considered a senior among the team, due to my age and experience, and I feel gymnastics has gradually improved throughout the past two years, as the gap between Hong Kong and international standards has narrowed.

The Pacific Alliance Gymnastics Championships held in Hawaii in April are a good example. A number of our gymnasts made it into the finals in individual apparatus. Although we did not win any medals, it was great to see Hong Kong gymnasts show the promise to become world-class athletes.

By closing the gymnasium, you will destroy the dreams of these young gymnasts, laying waste to their efforts, training 3? hours a day, five times a week. With fees reaching almost $10,000 to compete in Hawaii it just shows how passionate we are about gymnastics.

On behalf of all Hong Kong gymnasts, I would hope the government rethinks the consequences before any action is taken.

Angel Wong