12 February, 2011

Lim Heem Wei Athlete of the Year 2010


Doha (QAT), AGU Office February 12, 2011: Lim-heem-wei---singaporeShe may be 21, but in the world of gymnastics, Lim Heem Wei (picture) could well be in her sunset years.
Lim, a nominee for Today’s Athlete of the Year 2010, is currently working towards November’s SEA Games in Indonesia.
“I haven’t thought beyond this year yet. My main aim is this year’s SEA Games, and take it a step at a time there after,” she told MediaCorp last night. “I’ll be 22 later this year and am still competing, particularly to help the younger and less experienced members of the team along.”
She is one of six athletes singled out for the annual award, the first gymnast in the honour roll.
She made history last year when she won a silver in the women’s individual beam event at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October, becoming the first Singaporean to win a medal in gymnastics at such a level.
Lim, who weighs 49kg and stands 1.5m tall, got her big break in 2001, when she was selected as the sixth and final member of Singapore’s gymnastics team for the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Singapore Gymnastics vice-president Lee Hong Chuang said: “In 2001, we had to choose between Heem Wei and another older girl, as both of them were about the same standard. But we decided to give Heem Wei a chance. Although she was the youngest (12 at the time) she was able to contribute in the team event.
“Her attitude in training has always been excellent and she really carries herself well. She has definitely become a role model for our younger gymnasts.”
Lim’s hard work paid off in 2005 when the women’s artistic gymnastics team won the nation’s first SEA Games gold medal in Manila. They repeated the feat two years later in Hanoi. And in 2008, they clinched a bronze medal at the Asian Gymnastics Championships in Doha.
She carried an ankle injury in 2009 and eventually underwent surgery in August that year. The recovery process started immediately after the operation, and Lim finally found her footing at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Her historic achievement drew praise from Team Singapore chef-de-mission Annabel Pennefather.
Speaking to MediaCorp yesterday, Pennefather, the Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president, said: “As I mentioned at the time, Heem Wei’s win was very pleasing as we never previously had a gymnastics medal in the Games.
“She also had quite a lot of injuries in the past, and the Commonwealth Games had a strong field with Australia and England, so to achieve a silver was exceptional.”
by: Low Lin Fhoong