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Charms Of A Champion

Izzat Nizar and Izzat Haziq

Talking travel with Malaysian national artistic gymnast, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi.

Known for her stellar routines, powerful acrobatics, and all-round graceful moves, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi continues her victory streak by being an esteemed role-model for many Malaysians, including young girls. Lithe and poised, Farah showed her passion in the sport at the tender age of three, and since then has gone on to represent Malaysia on the international stage. In fact, the seven-times champion of women’s gymnastics at the South-East Asian (SEA) Games is not resting on her laurels as she currently undergoes training in preparation for the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, tentatively to be held in July 2021.

When she’s not on a strict training schedule, Farah loves to broaden her horizon by travelling to new places and meeting new faces. Here’s what she has to say about her proudest achievements and also her go-to favourite destinations in the world.

What is the sweetest moment in your career?

The sweetest moment in my career would be competing for the SEA Games 2017. Competing in front of the whole crowd and being able to share that moment with my family and friends was an amazing experience. Another sweet moment for me was qualifying for the Olympic games and knowing that I get to achieve my dream after all the sacrifices and hardships.

In the arena with the crown princess of artistic gymnastics, Farah Ann.
Speaking of the Olympics - which was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic - what are the things that you look forward to once everything goes back to normal?

I think one of the things that I’m looking forward to is being able to travel safely again. For me, obviously, the biggest thing I look forward to is to actually compete at the Olympic games. Hopefully, my parents will be there with me at the competition once all of this is over.

You have travelled to a lot of places. Can you share with us some of your favourite destinations?

I’d say one favourite place I’ve been to when competing is Edinburgh, Scotland. I love the architecture and the overall feeling of the country. Next would be the pristine Raja Ampat islands in Indonesia. I’d say it’s one of my favourite places to go, and one of the best diving experiences for me. Another favourite of mine is Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu. My family and I used to go there when I was younger and that is a very special memory that I have with me until now.

All smiles at the Angkor Wat in sunny Siem Reap, Cambodia.
What are the top 3 destinations on your ‘Bucket List’?

I really want to dive in Pulau Sipadan, Sabah as I have not been there yet. Next on my bucket list is to embark on a European backpacking trip, exploring places like Venice and France. Finally, I’d love to explore Tokyo.

Do you have a favourite destination that you never get tired of visiting?

I think I’d never get tired of visiting any beach that is well-kept and has a beautiful coral life. I’m actually very excited to dive in Raja Ampat islands again because of its amazing marine life and pristine beaches.

Relaxing by the beach in Australia (L) and Thailand (R).
What do you love most about travelling? And what do you hate most?

What I love most about travelling is getting immersed in different cultures and experiences of people from all walks of life. What I do not like about travelling is sometimes sellers would mark up the price for the things that they are selling, especially at a touristy place. It’s not a very pleasant experience when you get cheated - it just dampens the spirit of travelling.

Keeping cosy in Stuttgart, Germany.
How would you describe your experience when travelling from KLIA, klia2 or other airports in Malaysia?

KLIA is actually the first airport that I was at when I went for my first competition, so it holds a very special place in my heart. Every time I arrive from competition from overseas, KLIA always reminds me of that feeling of being home. This is different from other airports in some countries where you basically just fly in and then you fly out.

Do you see our airports as one of the best in the world?

I do think KLIA and klia2 are among the best airports in the world. KLIA is very beautiful and there are a lot of things for you to do, and you have that little bit of nature and greenery. When at klia2, you get to do a little bit of shopping, have a little bit of food and there are even comfortable waiting areas for when you find yourself on a layover. To be honest, I really like taking the train between the terminals. It’s like going on a little adventure.

What are some of the travel essentials that you must have with you during your travels?

Some of the travelling essentials that I think you must have with you during your travel, of course, is your passport, your money, your phone, and anything that pertains to anywhere you are travelling. Say, if you are travelling to a cold country, make sure you have proper clothing for that destination.

In nature’s backyard at Kek Lok Tong, Ipoh.
Share with us at least ONE of your travel quirks.

One of my travel quirks is I always overpack, especially when I go for competitions. I would rather have everything that I need rather than needing something that I didn’t pack. My bags are usually under the limit but usually one of the heaviest!

After sharing about her travels, Farah Ann also took the time to record a quick-fire round of 10 questions about herself with us. Learn more about her in the video below.

Interview by Izzat Nizar.
Video editing by Khalid Amir Hamzah.


Main photo courtesy of Corum Watches Malaysia.

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