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SA gymnasts’ vault to Glasgow gets underway

South African gymnasts’ quest to be part of Team South Africa for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, begin early next month in Cottbus, Germany, writes Wessel Ooosthuizen.

Five men and three women will take part in the 2014 Cottbus World Cup, also known as the 38th Turnier Der Meister World Challenge Cup and are all ready to perform and impress.

Kirsten Beckett and Claudia Cummins were ranked 8th and 19th on the World rankings in 2013, but the rankings will start afresh after Cottbus.

Beckett and Cummins, South Africa’s two top women gymnasts,┬á attended training camps in Arizona and Massachusetts during the December holidays and they will be joined by legendary Springbok wing, Tom van Vollenhoven’s, grand daughter, Bianca Mann.

ÔÇ£Kirsten and Claudia’s preparations are on track and both have added difficulties to their routines for Glasgow, some of which they will start competing in Cottbus and at the African championships in March. My gymnasts are looking strong and confident and both of them hope to build on the fact that they were already able to meet SASCOC’s criteria in 2013,ÔÇØ Ilse Roets head coach, said.

Cameron MacKenzie, former British national squad member, returned to South Africa after spending 10 years in the UK and his presence is expected to lift the profile of men’s gymnastics in South Africa drastically. McKenzie is pictured right with SASCOC President Gideon Sam at the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay in Johannesburg last week.

ÔÇ£We are busy with a programme to improve men’s gymnastics and would like to see gymnasts in every multi discipline team that leaves South Africa,ÔÇØ says Allan Chadwick from Pinetown Gymnastics Club in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Gerhard Ferreira, McKenzie’s coach, says he confident that South African gymnasts are ready for a fresh start and that gymnastics will hopefully be well represented in Glasgow.

If there is one aspect that South African gymnastics need not to worry about, is the fact that that the top gymnasts are reflective of the demographics of the country.

ÔÇ£There are two Zulus in the team┬á and our men’s artistic gymnastics (MAG) junior team has yet to get a white member,ÔÇØ Chadwick said.

The teams: (Women): Kirsten Beckett, Claudia Cummins, Bianca Mann. (Men): Cameron MacKenzie, Michael Makings, Tiaan Grobler, Sipasihle Biyase and Siphamandla Ngcobo.

Picture: Wessel Oooshuizen


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