Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Bay gymnasts ready for nationals in Invercargill

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HIGH HOPES: Members of the Bay of Plenty rhythmic gymnastics team in final training before this week's nationals. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
HIGH HOPES: Members of the Bay of Plenty rhythmic gymnastics team in final training before this week's nationals. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

The Bay of Plenty gymsport team is confident of success after making the long journey to Invercargill for the NZ Gymsports National Championships that runs from Wednesday to Sunday.

The 50-strong party of 40 athletes, seven coaches and three managers represent gymnastic clubs from Tauranga, Te Puke and Whakatane.

The athletes will compete across all six sporting codes of women's artistic gymnastics, men's artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and double mini, power tumbling and aerobics.

The event at the world-class indoor arena of the ILT Stadium in Invercargill is on a huge scale with 965 athletes all competing for the sought after medals.

Bay of Plenty team manager Kimberly Jones is expecting good things from the team at the nationals.

"We have several defending national champions going back to defend their titles, especially in tumbling and rhythmic," she said.

"I know with our women's artistic and our men's artistic teams they have shown very high scores throughout the competitive season, so we are very confident we are going to bring back several medal placings at least on apparatus and all around [AA]."

Jones says Bay of Plenty has many medal prospects.

"In tumbling, Gemma Gilmore is the current North Island and South Island 13 to 14-year Age Division champ 2016 and Taliyah Carter is the 2014 and 2015 defending Age Division national champion.

"Medea Jones is also a defending 2015 NZ national champion. She moved up into the Sub Junior International Tumbling division this year and is currently both the North Island and the South Island champ.

Kimberley Jones is hopeful the rhythmic gymnastics team will bring home several individual medal placings in apparatus and AA, with Isabella Johansson a defending 2015 national champion.

In women's and men's artistic gymnastics, Bay of Plenty had a national champion in 2015, and several athletes earned 2015 individual medal placings in AA and apparatus competitions.

"We are confident that this trend will continue from this group at nationals this year," Jones said.

"In aerobics, we also have four current Midland champions from this year and all girls are capable of bringing home several medals in apparatus competitions."

Jones says tumbling is definitely the gym sport that is growing the fastest.

"With power tumbling there has been a big push simply because New Zealand is hosting an international competition about three weeks after the nationals, called the Indo Pacific Trampoline and Tumbling Championships.

"There has been a big push nationwide to get crossover athletes from women's and men's artistic to start doing power tumbling because it is very complimentary to what they do on floor.

"So that code in particular has seen huge growth nationwide this year."

The Rio Olympics has given all gym sports a huge boost, which Jones says they were expecting.

"Every Olympic year you will see a lot more interest from younger children wanting to get into gymnastics.

"I know the gymnasts here have certain gymnasts worldwide that they like to follow and I know they got together in groups during the Olympics to watch it."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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