Trampoline gymnastics requires skilled, clean movements while in mid-air.

The sport requires a lot of dedication and practise, but it's more fun than duty for Tauranga's Ella McOnie, Sarina Hooper and Isabel Turner.

The three trampoline gymnasts are this week competing in the gymnastics division of the 2018 AIMS Games, using it as training for the 2018 New Zealand Gymnastics Championships at the ASB Arena in Mount Maunganui next month, which they have each been selected for.

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The number of gymnasts in the AIMS Games' have grown from 399 last year to 500 this year, which gymnastics co-ordinator Amy O'Neil, who is also ARGOS Gymsport Tauranga centre manager, says is a positive sign for the sport.

O'Neil says many of the young gymnasts will compete in more than one code during AIMS Games and with two new forms introduced into this year's gymnastics programme, including individual aerobics and tumbling, it provides more options for the young athletes.

Tauranga Intermediate's McOnie, 13, Otumoetai Intermediate's Hooper, 12, and Bethlehem College's Turner, 12, are all members of ARGOS Gymsport Tauranga and say AIMS Games allows them to compete against many of those they will come up against at nationals.

McOnie, who says she will be taking part in trampoline, gymnastics, tumbling and netball in this week's AIMS Games, is here to win, hoping to take gold in her trampoline division.

She started gymnastics when she was 4 and loves everything about it.

"I love being upside down; I'm upside down more than I'm standing normal," McOnie says. says.

Turner, who started trampolining at 11, says her goal for this year's AIMS Games is to "do my best".

"I like that it's sort of just before nationals, it's a practice against some of the kids we're going to be competing against in nationals," Turner says.


The 2018 New Zealand Gymnastics Championships will be held between October 3-6, when all three girls will experience their first national competition representing the region in trampoline.

They are all excited and have been training hard every day to prepare.

"I just want to see where I will come in New Zealand," Turner says.

Both Hooper and McOnie have been so inspired by their experience with their trampolining coach Sarah MacDuff, who coaches for both Argos and Bay of Plenty, that they want to coach in the future.

"You can't find a better coach than her," McOnie said.

MacDuff says the three gymnasts are self-motivated and will be able to support each other.

"It will be all of their first nationals and being a home nationals; there'll be good support."

Olympian Dylan Schmidt shares his knowledge at AIMS Games

Olympian Dylan Schmidt is judging at AIMS Games this year. Photo / File
Olympian Dylan Schmidt is judging at AIMS Games this year. Photo / File

Eleven years after New Zealand trampoline athlete and Olympian Dylan Schmidt competed in the AIMS Games himself, he has returned to help with judging.

Schmidt, who was 19 when he formed part of the New Zealand Olympic team for Rio, becoming the first New Zealander to compete in trampoline at an Olympics, is a gymnastics judge at AIMS Games this year focusing on the male-dominated trampolining section.

As a judge, he is looking for technique and clean lines and says he is looking forward to seeing young athletes such as Auckland's Zoe Davis (Northcross Intermediate) and Liam Costley (Auckland Normal Intermediate) - two names he has heard about in trampolining.

While this year is his first judging at an AIMS Games, he is no stranger to the event having won gold in trampolining at AIMS Games 11 years ago. When he did it, however, the event was nowhere as big as it is today with about "10 of us" competing.

He says the AIMS Games provides an excellent opportunity for kids to be part of a significant event, which may spark motivation to do more when they're older.

Schmidt, who was 7th at Rio, is also in training for the 2020 Olympics.