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SA gymnasts ready to strut their stuff in China

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By Mark Etheridge
A team of five will fly the South African flag at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Nanning, China next week.
The majority of the team headed east on Friday to prepare for the event which be contested between 3-12 October.
Two of the team, Claudia Cummins and Bianca Mann, were part of Team South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland earlier this year.
And the team coach, Shirley Watson, fulfilled this role for South Africa at the recent Youth Olympic Games, also in Asia, at Nanjing, China. She’ll be assisted by Gerhard Ferreira, Louis Fourie and Adele Heine.
The other two girls competing in the team are African Championships gymnast Angela Maguire and the up and coming Tylah Lotter.
There’s just one male gymnast going along, Ryan Patterson and he’s joined by his coach Jonathan Okada, assistant coach at Berkeley University, California. Patterson qualified at this year’s men’s nationals in Klerksdorp, North West.
Says Watson: ‘It will be quite a challenge for SA in the team competition as all four gymnasts’ marks will count but we are hoping to be consistent and improve our own SA world team ranking!
‘All the gymnasts are looking really strong and prepared for this event and thankfully theyr’e all injury free and can really focus on doing their personal best at this major event.’
‘The goals for the federation is to have an individual who will be able to place within the top 100 in the world in the all around score – we certainly believe that Ryan has the potential to do this but it will not be an easy task as more than 300 male athletes will be at the event as this is the first stage of team qualification for the Rio Olympics and all the major players will have full teams in attendance.’
Added Ilse Pelser, gymnastics coach for SA at the Commonwealth Games: ‘Angela and Lotter are both competing at their first major international. We placed 28th at the last Team World Champs in 2010 and are hoping to retain our position although it will be very tough without Kirsten Beckett. A full team is actually six girls, so going in with four girls we have no room for error (as it was in Commonwealth), so our goal is just to try and go clean without any major falls.’
Beckett underwent shoulder surgery earlier this month and is currently recovering, as well as writing final examinations.

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