Lone gymnast Bianca is bound for World Games | SASCOC - SASCOC

Lone gymnast Bianca is bound for World Games

Today we feature the third in a series of pre-event stories ahead of South Africa’s campaign at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia. South Africa will be represented in nine different sporting codes. MARK ETHERIDGE looks at our gymnastics representative.

Most top gymnastics look to be double-jointed and Bianca Zoonekynd, our only World Games representative in Colombia later this month, will be doing a doubling-up act in Cali.

At 21, already an established veteran on the international circuit, the Port Elizabeth athlete is the only gymnast on Team South Africa.

“I’m taking part in the double mini trampoline and the tumbling, the only girl competing in both events,” she told Road to Rio 2016.

“My competition will be over four days I think, prelims one day and then normally rest day before finalsÔǪ but for me there’s no rest as I have prelims for both competitions!”

Zoonekynd’s main competition is expected to come from Russia and Canada on the double mini and then Russia and China in the tumbling. “I haven’t heard much about the other countries but the countries I’ve mentioned are normally the main competition countries.”

Her training regime sees her working out twice a day for roughly two hours a session and she’s happy with the stage she’s reached now. “Training started off a bit tough but I’m peaking at the right time now, and I know I can go into the gym and do my routines. Now it’s just down to the little things of deciding what routines to do for prelims and what to do in the finals. Luckily there haven’t been any major injuriesÔǪ my life is just all about training now, just the last little bit to go and then we’re off.”

Zoonekynd is coached, and has been pretty much since being born, by her mother Mandy. “She started playing around my feet in the gym when I was coaching and she could barely crawl,” said Mandy. “She started competing at six and from the age of 10 she was in the national team. Her first international competition took place in Australia and we had to travel there from Malaysia where we were based for a year.

Young Zoonekynd’s career highlights are her two silver medals in the mini trampoline at the 2010 and 2011 World Championships in France and England respectively.

“The difficulty level in her routines is very good compared to the other girls, from what I can gather. She’s been working on a triple backwards somersault, which is extremely difficult and she’s landing it 90% of the time. She did it in Bulgaria last year at the Sofia Cup.”

Bianca also works out with a bio-kineticist twice weekly. “That’s all part of the conditioning,” says Zoonekynd senior. “It’s all power-related stuff and keeping her core muscles strong.

“She’s been pretty lucky with injuries and she went through a bit of a slump with a slight shoulder problem that I want to get sorted out and scanned at the end of the year.”

Strangely enough it’s not the tumbling and turning that worries Mandy, rather her daughter’s other passion, namely rubber-duck racing.

“Now that makes me really nervous. She started racing with a friend of her dad’s but I’ve told her that she simply has to lay off in the build-up to World Games.”