Northland's aspiring gymnasts are bouncing off the walls after a two-day camp with 2016 Olympian Courtney McGregor.
About 50 gymnasts from Kerikeri and the wider Whangārei area came together on Monday and yesterday at the Parua Bay community centre for the first annual camp, run by Fantastic Gymnastics.
The star attraction was 22-year-old McGregor, who competed in artistic gymnastics at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. At 17, McGregor was the youngest member of the New Zealand team and the first from Aotearoa to compete in artistic gymnastics since 2000.
"It's really inspiring," 17-year-old gymnast Ariah Croasdale said.
"It's something for everyone to look up to."
McGregor, now retired, made her first trip to Northland to reunite with old tutor Hannah Prout, who coached McGregor in her hometown of Christchurch but now runs the Parua Bay club.
Having just done a similar camp in Auckland, McGregor ventured north to bestow her wisdom on Northland's up and coming gymnasts.
"I had some photos and videos from when I was their age, from when I was 6 all the way through, so it was cool for them to see where I started, where I got to and to know that it's possible."
However, McGregor was quick to say it was not easy to reach the highest level. At 11, she trained about 11 hours per week, which then increased to about 32 once she reached 15 years old.
"Gymnastics is a really intense sport, you put in a lot of hours so you have to love it and have that passion for it," she said.
"The most important thing is that they're doing it for themselves and that they enjoy it."
Prout, who had coached gymnastics for about 35 years, was glad her Northland gymnasts were able to see what it takes to reach the Olympic Games.
"It's makes it real, that it can be done and Courtney is a very real person, she's very open."
Prout echoed her former student's message about gymnasts needing to love the sport.
"The gymnasts have to do it themselves, that it's not the parents they're trying to please, they're doing it because they want to do it because it's a hard journey," she said.
That hard journey had been made even harder in 2020 thanks to Covid-19. As with all sporting codes, gymnastics competitions were cancelled but given gymnasts required as much as 12 weeks to return to competition form after a break, that saw many leave the sport.
Prout hoped a return to normal competition this year would keep Northland's current crop of gymnasts aspiring for higher honours.