Former gymnast Dr Farrah carves history in academia

Dr Farrah graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland in 2002 and completed her Master of Surgery (Plastic Surgery) from USM in 2010. – BERNAMA photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Former national rhythmic gymnast Dr Farrah-Hani Imran has made Malaysian history by becoming the first athlete to achieve the rank of Associate Professor in the medical field — and the first gymnast to achieve it in any field.

The head of Plastic Surgery, Burn Unit and Wound Care Team of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (PPUKM) received her best Syawal gift on May 22 after over 14 years of serving in the civil service.

"Humbling as the first former national athlete to make it as a surgical Profesor Madya (Assoc Prof), and the first national gymnast to be a Profesor Madya in any field. It is a real-life proof that sports is crucial in building character and creating multitasking all-around individuals who are an asset to the workplace.

"My biggest constant motivators are my family — mother, sister Amy Imran, brother Dr Amar Imran and husband Dr Enda Kelly," Dr Farrah, the first Malaysian gymnast to compete in the world meet in Alicante, Spain in 1993, told Bernama.

The Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) vice-president said that despite the added responsibilities in her new role and the global war against the COVID-19 pandemic, she hopes the recognition would strengthen education, empowerment and collaboration between sports and academia, especially in the areas of mental strength, doping control and healthcare.

Asked about sceptics who think that being active sports could be a hindrance to being successful in one's career, the 43-year-old Dr Farrah said sports provided the tools and landscape needed to figure out one's own character and the opportunity to improve it to be the best version of themselves.

"The core concept is that it is not all about winning, either in the classroom or on the field, it is purely about attitude and character. Understanding what drives you, comprehending your responsibilities to your team and giving your absolute best.

"Sports teaches you how to be a champion but, more importantly, it teaches you how to handle defeat with class and grace, including knowing when to take a step back to let others shine, appreciating that it is not always about you," she said.

Dr Farrah graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland (RCSI) in 2002 and completed her Master of Surgery (Plastic Surgery) from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in 2010.