Although 18-year-old Aizat Jufrie is the youngest member of the Singaporean men’s squad, which is preparing for the Commonwealth Games that begin this week in Glasgow, he is confident that he and his teammates can produce positive results in their Games debut as a full team.
Jufrie said he is eager to continue the Singaporean success achieved at the 2010 Games in Delhi, where David Jonathan Chan and Gabriel Gan finished third and fourth, respectively, on pommel horse. Prior to 2014, Singapore has not fielded a full men’s artistic gymnastics team at the Games.
“I hope I will be able to contribute to the team score and raise the level even more in Glasgow,” said Jufrie, who was born Aizat Bin Muhammad Jufrie on Jan. 24, 1996.
Jufrie will be joined on the Singaporean team in Glasgow by Gan, Terry Tay (Wei-An), Timothy Tay (Kai Cheng) and Wah Toon Hoe.
Singapore’s women’s team for the Games includes 2012 Olympian Lim Heem Wei, Michelle Teo (Yin Zhi), Ashly Lau (Wei-Ning), Janessa Dai (Min Yi) and Joey Tam (Jing Ying).
Coached on all six apparatuses by Lin Zhenqiu, Jufrie has represented Singapore at an impressive range of competitions over the past few years. He placed 21st all-around in the junior division at the 2010 Pacific Rim championships in Melbourne, 11th all-around at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games on the Isle of Man, and sixth all-around at the 2012 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) School Games in Surabaya, Indonesia.
At the 2013 Hong Kong Invitational, Jufrie won vault, placed third on four other apparatuses and was fourth all-around.
This spring Jufrie competed on two apparatuses at the 2014 FIG Challenge Cup of Doha, Qatar, in March, where he finished 17th on vault; and placed third on vault, eighth on rings and 16th all-around at the 2014 Commonwealth Invitational/Celtic Cup in Perth, Scotland.
In this IG Online interview, Jufrie details his agenda for Glasgow, and places the Games in perspective to his overall career strategy.
IG: In this final lead-up to the Games, what specifically are you focusing on in your training? Are you fine-tuning your routines, working on mental confidence, or something else?
AJ: I am currently working with my coach to tweak my routines for the Games, to limit the deductions to a minimum. I am focusing on my execution for each event and to make sure I’ll be able to complete my routines in Glasgow to the best of my abilities. Mental training is very important to me. Visualizing my routines and skills for each apparatus will ensure my mind is ready for any unfortunate mishaps during the competition. Hey, gymnastics is a very gratifying sport and anything can happen, so I have to make sure that my mind is as ready as my physical body for this competition.
IG: Glasgow will be the biggest competition of your career, so what are your personal expectations, and how do you plan to balance them against the expectations that Singapore has for you?
AJ: Yes, the coming Commonwealth Games is the biggest competition I'll be representing Singapore in thus far, and I plan on bringing back as much experience as I can from such a major competition with a wide variety of challenging opponents from around the world. I've done my best to prepare myself for this competition and I just have to hope for the best. I intend on doing my best and completing my routines with minimal deductions, and I’ll be satisfied with my performance. Singapore’s expectations on me will be on another note, and I'm sure I've already met some expectations of my country by representing Singapore in the first full men’s artistic gymnastics team being sent to this major competition.
IG: On which apparatuses do you feel you have the best chances for success in Glasgow, and why?
AJ: I feel I have the best chance on vault, as I've been faring rather well in the past few competitions, especially being very fortunate to make the finals at the Commonwealth Invitational (in Perth, Scotland, in April) and even bag a bronze medal for the Singapore team of four. But at the end of the day I can only perform my best and control what I do. What the other countries do and what team they send to the Games are out of my control. … For now all I can do is continue training hard on my six events and hope for the best!
IG: At the 2010 Games your teammate David Jonathan Chan won a bronze medal and Gabriel Gan was fourth on pommel horse, raising the international presence of Singapore. How do you think you can maintain and raise the level even more in Glasgow?
AJ: David Jonathan Chan and Gabriel Gan have indeed raised the bar of the international presence of Singapore, and did Singapore proud in the previous Commonwealth Games. At the same time, they both specialize on pommel horse, which is different from me. This is the first time Singapore will be sending a team for men’s artistic gymnastics to the Games, and my aim will be to contribute as much as I can for the team score. Being the youngest of the team at 18 years old, I hope I will be able to contribute to the team score and raise the level even more in Glasgow.
IG: Besides Glasgow, you have the Asian Games and possibly the world championships in Nanning to prepare for later this year. How does Glasgow fit into your overall scheme for international competitions this year?
AJ: It's the stepping stone of major competitions for me: one leading to another, gaining experiences and learning from each competition, hopefully being even more prepared for each competition, mastering skills as I go along for each competition, and learning new techniques and training style from different gymnasts competing in the major events. In the long run, it’s about harvesting enough experience to work alongside my goals, and achieving to be a better Singaporean gymnast.
Read a profile on Lim Heem Wei in the June 2012 issue of International Gymnast magazine.
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