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Tragedy as fire leaves top South African gymnast homeless
- Updated: January 21, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
Top South African gymnast Bianca Zoonekynd and her mother and coach Mandy were forced to look on helplessly as their home of 19 years was razed by fire in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday night.
The family home caught alight and despite the best efforts by the local fire department, the house burnt down to the ground.
Zoonekynd, who turned 23 only last week, is an accomplished international tumbling and double-mini trampoline expert and represented Team South Africa at the World Games in Cali, Colombia in 2013.
‘Last night was one of the worst nights of my life,’ said. ‘Our home of 19 years burnt down to the ground but I’m so so happy my family (mom, dad, cat, three dogs and two horses) are all safe which is the most important thing!
‘Thank you for all your messages and phone calls! I would really like to thank everyone in Horseshoe Drive and around for their help saving our animals and making sure we are all okay. To my Theron family next door thank your for all your love and support and looking after us!
‘To the firemen and women who came out to help everyone who was there, we appreciate you all.’
Amazingly, despite the traumatic turn of events, young Zoonekynd’s immediate concern was that mother Mandy would still be able to take part in this weekend’s Half Iron Man triathlon in East London.
‘My main worry right now is my mom who has been training so hard. The only thing she has left is her bicycle. She has spent a bit of money getting together her collection of triathlon gear…and it all went in the fire. I would really love to give her this opportunity to still go and give it all she has… my mom has been there for my brother [Lee] and I in our gymnastic careers supporting us and always finding a way to get us to competitions and give us a opportunity to compete.
‘No matter the cost she would find the money. I’d really like to give her this one. If anyone has spare triathlon gear or would like to donate money to help her.’
And as positive as ever, she concluded: ‘Life still goes on – we start up new today. They say “everything happens for a reason”.