Rio showcased Dylan Schmidt's rising talent; this weekend New Zealand's best trampolinist is off to bounce higher in the sports pecking order.

The Auckland student has three World Cup events before the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, in November and is determined to demonstrate the early belief shown in him was well-placed.

He marked New Zealand's first appearance in the gymnastic discipline at an Olympics in Rio by finishing seventh overall. Now his sights are set higher.

Schmidt, 20, has had an off-season plagued by injuries, notably to the meniscus in his right knee and a groin tear. Now he's fully fit and ready for a busy campaign.


Schmidt has long been a high flier in the sport.

He went to Russia at 12 for the junior world champs and won; ditto the world youth Olympics in Nanjing, China in 2015.

The Russian trip crystallised in the young mind what he wanted to achieve in the sport. Nanjing moved things on a step and Rio continued the progression.

Rule changes to the sport will make it an interesting season and Rio was not without lessons for the Te Anau-born gymnast, the biggest of them being ...? "Dealing with what you're given," he said.

"My leadup wasn't ideal. I had a few issues and my training was pretty average leading into it.

"I did all the hard work and training lead-up in the years before and had to trust myself, even when things were not going well, that on the day I could pull it out.

"That's what I did and took a lot of confidence from that."

His performance in Rio was a standout. Those who finished above him in qualifying were two apiece from China, Russia and Japan, plus a Belarussian - that equals gymnastic powerhouses and a young Kiwi.

Schmidt and his Australian coach Jarrod Heriot - who ticks off his fourth year with Schmidt this weekend - are working on toughening up his routine.

Rule changes are designed in part to cut down on the element of subjectivity in the judging, which should be welcomed given gymnastics' unfortunate track history of dodgy decision-making at past Olympics, but also to reward skill. One change means athletes must focus on landing in the middle of the trampoline each time they land. Do that and they'll get maximum points; land, say, a metre off centre and penalties will kick in. That's known as horizontal displacement.

Add in there's a measure introduced for the height the athlete attains. The more height the better, and there'll be a reward for that.

Four elements are required now in the first, or set, routine. There are 10 in the second, voluntary turn. Two judges, not three, will do the marking.

"We've stepped up the difficulty of his routine quite significantly from last year," Heriot said.

"Those with a bigger arsenal of elements will be better placed and Dylan has plenty of those skills."

Schmidt admitted he was unsure initially about the changes, but on reflection believes they will benefit the sport. "I've got plenty of skills I can work with, so adding new skills should be no problem for me.

"Having judges is a bit frustrating at times because you think you are given a score you don't really deserve. So taking as much subjectivity out as you can is good for the sport."

In his one competition under the new rules this year, Schmidt achieved a personal best in winning the Australian nationals in Melbourne at the end of May. Call that a good, early omen. Finals and podium placings are on the to-do list this year.

"Always the goal is finals, even last year. This year I'd be disappointed if I don't make finals and once you're in the final, pushing for the podium."

He doesn't have specific targets, but there are technical goals the pair have put in place, "certain scores I want to hit". Schmidt has been hitting his marks for several years now. Don't be surprised if there's more success on the way soon.

At a glance
● Dylan Schmidt finished seventh at last year's Rio Olympic men's trampoline event.
● He he is off to Europe for the first of three World Cup events in Minsk, Belarus on August 18-19.
● He'll follow that with further cup events in Loule, Portugal on September 29-30 and Valladolid, Spain from October 7-8, then it's off to the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria from November 9-12.