Gemma Gilmore is rated the number one contender to win the New Zealand National Gymsport 13-14 age group tumbling title in September.

If she can pick up the national title representing Bay of Plenty in Invercargill it will give her the three major events in one year after earlier winning the North Island and South Island titles last month.

Gemma, who trains at Mount Maunganui's Impact Gymsport Academy and is a Year 8 student at Tauranga Intermediate, has excelled in tumbling.

It is an energetic, fast-paced form of gymnastics performed without any equipment, also referred to as floor gymnastics.


Speed, agility and no little courage are essential for a gymnast to perform a myriad of skills including a round off which is similar to a cartwheel, flick flack and a back somersault landing completely still without moving their feet.

Gemma, 13, says she was aiming to win both last month's events that qualified her for the nationals.

"It was very important to try and win them both as there are not many competitions," she said.

"There were about nine in each competition in my age group. You go through and do two separate passes and if you make it through to the top eight you do another one.

"It doesn't have to be graceful, it can be strong and powerful which is what I like about (tumbling). You have to be powerful."

Gemma started doing artistic gymnastics when she was 10 and school gymnastics before that.

She took up tumbling full time at the beginning of second term last year.

Her favourite move is called a lay out.

"It is a back flip except your body is straight, not in a ball and done at speed," she said.
Gemma's coach Karen Kennedy is delighted to work with her.

"Gemma is a hard worker, very self-disciplined, sets goals and works hard to complete them.

"She is a very intelligent girl, so you give her an instruction, you see it work over in her head and she goes and does it. Those kids are few and far between.

"She pushes herself, she drives herself and is a dream to coach."

Between now and the nationals in September Karen will work out what level of risk for higher scoring points is best for Gemma in her routine.

"Do we make her passes harder which score higher but can also be deducted more by the judges?

"You have to weigh up do you keep it basic and it has to be done to perfection, or do we push those degrees of difficulty in a harder move.

"I think definitely we need to push Gemma harder.

"If she stays where she is at the moment she will be bored within a couple of weeks guaranteed and she is quite capable."