Facts about Farah Ann Abdul Hadi

Gymnastics is an Olympic sport that requires great strength, agility, and coordination. In Malaysia, an athlete who has created a lasting impression in the gruelling world of competitive gymnastics despite facing setbacks and criticisms about her gymnastics attire is none other than Farah Ann Abdul Hadi.

For over 20 years, the national artistic gymnast has represented Malaysia in various international competitions, breaking social stigmas and helping to pave a way for other gymnasts. Here are nine facts about the Malaysian athlete, who announced her retirement on 12th March 2022, to celebrate her career.

1. She’s a 28-year-old artistic gymnast from Subang Jaya

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi with her parents
Image credit: @farahann94

Born on 3rd May 1994 to interracial couple Abdul Hadi Ahmad and Kimberly Ann Gagnon, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi is a 28-year-old Malaysian from Subang Jaya, Selangor. Farah’s father, Abdul Hadi is a Malaysian and her mother, Kimberly Ann, is a Canadian national.

Farah has two siblings and she is the second of three children in her family. Her elder sister, Katrina Ann Abdul Hadi, is also an accomplished, former national synchronised swimmer.

2. Farah Ann started gymnastics at the age of three

Farah Ann childhood photo
Image credit: @farahann94

Farah’s journey in gymnastics started at a very young age. She took up the sport when she was only three years old, and started training with the national team when she was just eight. In spite of her age, she was already competing at national level competitions such as the Sukma Games.

She made her international debut at the age of 16 when she represented Malaysia at the 2010 Pacific Rim Championships in Melbourne, Australia. That same year, she also competed in the 19th Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.

Her passion for gymnastics came about when she was enrolled in gymnastic classes by her parents as she used to throw a lot of tantrums as a young girl. Since then, she has been training to compete in various gymnastics events such as floor exercise, uneven bars, all-around and balance beam – to name a few.

3. She has won seven gold medals at the SEA Games

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi winning gold medal
Image credit: @farahann94

As a national artistic gymnast, Farah has won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals in various international competitions. The highlights of her achievements include a total of seven gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in the years 2015, 2017 and 2019. Apart from these, Farah also clinched the silver medal twice and the bronze medal thrice at the SEA Games.

Her long list of achievements also includes a bronze in the floor exercise and team event at the Artistic Celtic Cup-Commonwealth Invitational in Perth, Scotland, in 2014; a silver in the uneven bars event in the 2016 Ljubljana World Cup, in Slovenia; and one gold, two silver and four bronze medals in the 2017 and 2019 Stella Zakharova Cup in Ukraine.

4. She made her historic Olympic debut in 2021

National gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi
Image credit: @farahann94

Competing in the Olympics has always been a career dream of Farah’s. This has since come true, as she made her historic Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, becoming the first Malaysian female artistic gymnast to qualify for the Games after 20 years too.

She earned this precious opportunity to compete at the international sporting event when she finished 59th out of 180 gymnasts in the qualifying session of the individual all-around event at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

Her Olympic debut is also memorable as she is the third Malaysian gymnast to qualify for the Games after gymnasts Au Li Yen in 2000 and Ng Shu Wai in 2004. Farah previously missed qualifications for Rio 2016 Olympics by a margin of 0.1 in the final score.

Farah exited the Tokyo 2020 Olympics early as she was placed 68th out of 85 competitors in the women’s all-around gymnastics event, but nonetheless ushered the return of Malaysia in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics event. 

5. Farah Ann has a degree in international studies

Farah graduating from university
Image credit: @farahann94

Alongside her stunning career in sports, Farah has several achievements in academics to brag about as well. This is evident since she was a young kid in school, as she’s been a top scorer in public examinations.

Farah scored eight As in her Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) and five As in her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) before pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from Monash University in Subang Jaya. Farah is a bilingual who’s fluent in both spoken and written Bahasa Malaysia and English.

6. Farah was named 2019 Female Olympian Of The Year

Farah holding Malaysian flag
Image credit: Farah Ann Abdul Hadi

2019 was arguably one of the most successful times in Farah’s gymnastics career. This is because she received numerous accolades and honours in recognition of her immense contribution in sports, followed by a series of international wins at tournaments such as the SEA Games and the Stella Zakharova Cup.

She was named the 2019 Female Olympian of the Year by the Olympic Council of Malaysia for her outstanding performance in gymnastics.

That same year, she was also given the honour of being Malaysia’s flag bearer at the 30th Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy, an international multi-sport event organised by the International University Sports Federation (FISU).

7. She was immortalised as a Barbie doll before

Farah Ann with Barbie doll figure
Image credit: @farahann94

Every little girl who grew up loving Barbie dolls can only wish to have a doll that looks just like them. One of the highlights of Farah’s career as an inspiring female Malaysian gymnast is that a Barbie doll was modelled after her by toymaker Mattel in 2020.

Farah shared the news on her official Instagram account, saying that it was an honour for her to be featured in their campaign.

“Being part of the Shero campaign and in conjunction with the Barbie’s You Can Be Anything campaign which aims to inspire the limitless potential in every girl is such an amazing campaign and one that I truly champion and believe in.”

“Every little girl’s dreams should be nurtured and they should have, and be given the opportunity to achieve and work towards what they aspire to be,” she wrote.

8. She has suffered multiple injuries throughout her career

Malaysian artistic gymnast
Image credit: @farahann94

Being a national artistic gymnast wasn’t easy for Farah. Apart from the criticisms she received over her sport’s attire, she also suffered multiple injuries from training and competing which have hindered her from going further in the sport.

In 2005, she suffered a knee fracture and a calf muscle tear that took her about four months to fully recover from. This was then followed by a fracture on her back in 2010, which took her half a year of recovery time.

Farah then suffered a shoulder ligament tear in 2014 that ruled her out of action for three months. Two years later, she had a torn ankle ligament that took two months to heal. The repeated injuries from the sport have led her to announce her retirement in 2022.

9. Farah Ann officially retired from gymnastics in March 2022

Malaysian gymnast at the Olympics
Image credit: @farahann94

After shining like a star for more than two decades, Farah officially announced her retirement from competitive gymnastics on 12th March 2022. In stating so, she said that she was grateful for all the wonderful memories that she had over the years and for those who continuously supported her through her highs and lows.

“I am so thankful to retire ON MY TERMS. It’s been amazing. Thank you to all of you. Gymnastics will always be a part of me, as It will always be my passion, and hopefully, I can give something back to the sport that has truly given me so much,” she wrote on her social media pages, adding that despite retiring, she will continue to give back to gymnastics in every way she can after “25 amazing years in [the] sport”.

National artistic gymnast, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi

Despite the persistent social stigma she faced, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi rose above her critics and proved that women can be successful in sports like artistic gymnastics if they work hard and give it their all.

While it’s true that many are not happy seeing Farah as a gymnast, there are many more who have shown her great support throughout her illustrious career. 

Hopefully, the future of gymnastics will become a promising one for Malaysia, with an improved mindset and acceptance among our people, so talented gymnasts like Farah can shine.

Read more here about Malaysian athletes here: 

Cover image adapted from: @farahann94 and @farahann94

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