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Beckett and Cummins have Rio in their sights

South Africa’s top women gymnasts Kirsten Beckett and Claudia Cummins will start their difficult and long road to the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 next month when they travel to Antwerp, Belgium, for the 2013 World championships, writes Wessel Oosthuizen.

“Gymnastics is a very important and spectacular code and we would dearly like to have gymnasts as members of Team South Africa at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and obviously at the Olympics in Rio 2016. We hope that some of our gymnasts will be able to qualify for Rio 2016,” said SASCOC President Gideon Sam.

Sam said that Beckett is on SASCOC’s OPEX program and he hopes that more gymnasts can qualify for the programme.

There were no South African gymnasts at the Olympics in London last year, but three officials fulfilled judging roles. “Both Kirsten and Claudia are ranked by the International Gymnastics federation (FIG) and they have worked extremely hard and will take the floor in Belgium well prepared,” coach Ilse Roets said.

Beckett is ranked eighth on vault, 13th on floor and 42th on uneven bars. Cummins is ranked 19th on vault. It is the highest that South African gymnasts have ever been ranked by the FIG.

It will be Beckett and Cummins’ first world championships and Nicole Szarbo’s third.

SASCOC has stringent qualification criteria in place, but in order for South African gymnasts to be ranked in the Commonwealth and in the world, the gymnasts need to take part internationally on a regular basis.,

Beckett’s silver medal at the 2010 Youth Commonwealth Games and brilliant world ranking earned her a R144 000 Operation Excellence OPEX grant from SASCOC. All overseas competitions are self-funding.

The South African Gymnastics Federation (SAGF) said that they have not received any Lotto grants for the past three years and also stopped paying coaches for more than a year.

The team is:  
Men: Michael Makings, Tiaan Grobler, Siphesihle Biyase. Coach: Derick Schotlz
Women: Claudia Cummins, Kirsten Beckett, Nicole Szabo. Coach: Ilse Roets
Physiotherapist: Adele Koolen


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