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Olympic medallists Lee Chih-kai, Yeo Seo-jeong to compete at Asian Artistic Gymnastics C’ships in S’pore

SINGAPORE – Olympic medallists Lee Chih-kai from Chinese Taipei and Yeo Seo-jeong from South Korea will join Asia’s best in competing at the upcoming Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Singapore, organisers announced on Wednesday.

Lee and Yeo, who claimed a silver and bronze respectively at Tokyo 2020, are trailblazers for their respective countries. The former is Chinese Taipei’s first Olympic medallist in gymnastics, while the latter is South Korea’s first female gymnast to win a medal at the quadrennial Summer Games.

In Lee, fans will get to see one of the best pommel horse specialists in the world. The 27-year-old also has a silver and bronze at the world championships but could face tough competition at the Singapore Sports Hub from Jordan’s two-time Asian champion and world championships silver medallist Ahmad Abu Al-Soud.

The Asian junior championships from June 10-12 before the June 15-18 senior championships.

Earlier in May, Filipino two-time gymnastics world champion Carlos Yulo confirmed his participation in the competition alongside the evergreen Oksana Chusovitina, 47, an eight-time Olympian.

Other prominent names set to feature are Indonesia’s Rifda Irfanaluthfi, a silver medallist in the floor exercise at the 2018 Asian Games, and China’s Yang Jiaxing, a member of the squad that won the team gold at the 2022 World Championships.

Yulo’s compatriots Aleah Finnegan and Emma Malabuyo will also be part of the field. Finnegan and Malabuyo, both 20, previously represented the United States.

Finnegan was part of the US team that won gold at the 2019 Pan American Games. At the 2021 SEA Games in Hanoi, she took home two golds and two silvers.

Malabuyo, who will be making her debut for the Philippines, had been part of the US national team since 2016 and was an alternate for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The upcoming competition is a key event on the path to the Paris 2024 Olympics as athletes can use it to earn their slots for the Sept 30-Oct 8 World Championships in Belgium, a qualification event for the Olympics. The top five teams at the Asian Championships will advance to the world meet.

National gymnast Kaeson Lim, who recently won a silver medal in the men’s pommel horse at the Cambodia SEA Games, is relishing the chance to compete against some top gymnasts.

Ahead of the Asian Championships, Lim will be taking part in the Singapore Open, which will take place from Friday to June 4 at the Bishan Sports Hall.

The 23-year-old said: “As athletes, we always want to push ourselves and test ourselves against some of the best gymnasts in the world.

“I am excited to take on the big names of the sport in front of our Singapore fans. It will be a treat for our fans and we hope we can give them something to cheer about.”