Malaysia and Guatemala are the first two countries to benefit from a new developmental program funded in part by the International Olympic Committee, the FIG announced Thursday.
Ana Sofia Gomez (Guatemala) at the 2010 Youth Olympics
The educational program targets growth in developing countries lacking a strong base in gymnastics, and involves "the setting of objectives and national targets, the organising of instructional curricula, the preparation of training and competition programmes, and planning by FIG personnel," the FIG stated.
"The same specialists will subsequently carry out a series of technical and physical tests aimed at young athletes in the various age categories as well as elite gymnasts in the targeted developing countries."
The initiative extends the work of the FIG Academy, launched in 2002.
"In the long term it also provides a means for cementing the development of the various disciplines in those countries where there is no previous tradition, history or culture of gymnastics," the FIG stated.
The International Olympic Committee has endorsed the program and is providing "significant financial support," the FIG stated.
"Together with the investment provided by the FIG, this IOC windfall will enable the implementation and completion of numerous projects being run as part of the programme by the FIG's four continental unions," the federation stated.
The Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia and the Central America nation of Guatemala are the first recipients of the IOC funds, with courses established this year. Both have limited histories of success in gymnastics.
2004 Olympian Ng Shu Wai, eighth on men's floor exercise at the 2003 World Championships, is Malaysia's only world finalist to date. At last fall's Asian Games, Tracie Ang was the nation's only finalist in gymnastics, finishing seventh on balance beam.
Guatemala saw its biggest success to date from 1992 Olympian Luisa Portocarrero, who lived and trained in Canada during her career. Ana Sofia Gomez made a splash at last summer's Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, finishing a surprise fifth all-around. Gomez, who has a strong chance of qualifying to the 2012 Olympic Games, told IG on Thursday that training is going well and her next competition will be in June.
Read more about Tracie Ang in the March 2011 issue of International Gymnast Magazine. Click here to subscribe today and read the article digitally, on your computer or your mobile device!
External Link: International Gymnastics Federation