KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20: After ending the year on a high by winning the male Olympian of the Year 2019 last night, wushu exponent Loh Choon How has dropped a bombshell by announcing his retirement.
Choon How, 26, has enjoyed a fascinating year by winning silver at the World Championships and double gold at the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines but felt that he has had enough of struggling with injuries.
However, the Kuala Lumpur-born exponent said his decision to call it a day is subject to approval by the Wushu Federation of Malaysia (WFM).
Over the years, he has suffered injuries ranging from torn medial collateral ligament, meniscus and back muscle to crooked spine.
Choon How also struggled with pain when winning the two golds at the recent SEA Games.
“My condition is very bad…Even now I cannot stand for long; after 15 minutes I need to sit and rest. The injuries were accumulated over the years during training and competitions.
“So I am considering to focus on recovery and rest, but even if I retire, I won’t stop from wushu…I will continue my career in coaching and impart my knowledge to others. For sure, this year’s performance is the best in my sporting career,” he said here after being named the male Olympian of the Year.
Choon How bagged Malaysia’s first gold at the Philippines SEA Games in the men’s taijiquan event on Dec 1, before claiming his second gold in the taijijian a day later.
He said the Olympian of the Year award meant a lot to him and wushu, as he is only the second wushu exponent to receive the honour since 1993, after Ho Ro Bin’s feat in 2002.
At the same 26th Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) Annual Dinner and Awards Night, gymnastics queen Farah Ann Abd Hadi was declared the female Olympian of the Year 2019.
They each received RM10,000 cash and a gold medal, sponsored by Coca-Cola Company, from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
Meanwhile, Farah Ann, who has also excelled by clinching an Olympics berth and winning three SEA Games golds in Manila, in women’s all-around, floor exercise and uneven bars, described the year as an incredible one.
“I am very grateful to even get nominated for the award. Winning it surely meant a lot. I think all the ups and downs make this year great, shaped myself to prepare physically and mentally because I knew that everything, the highs and lows, comes for a reason.
“I did not qualify for Rio Olympics in 2016, that was with a margin of 0.1 due to a mistake; and not getting my uneven bars gold in the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games, only to achieve it this year after the years of hard work,” the 25-year-old said.
The last time Malaysia had an artistic gymnast in the world’s biggest multisports event was when Au Li Yen featured at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.