Whangārei's Ryan Townsend has made history as Northland's second male gymnast selected for an international tour.
Townsend, 15, was chosen as one of seven gymnasts across the country for a New Zealand team to take part in the 2020 Valeri Liukin Tour, which included two competitions in Texas, United States in January.
Although the Whangārei Boys' High School student might not have expected to make the final tour team, Townsend's achievements this year had proven his worth. Just to qualify for selection, Townsend had to hit the coveted score of 70, which he did to win level seven (first senior level) at the Auckland Manukau Championships on August 3-4.
After a solid performance at the New Zealand national gymnastics championships in Auckland two weeks ago, the Whangārei Academy of Gymnastics (WAGs) club member learned of his selection last Thursday when his parents happened to check the Gymnastics New Zealand website.
"My Dad called me in sounding all grumpy so I thought I'd done something wrong and he passes me the iPad and then I read down the list and there's my name," Ryan said.
"I was really excited to see that."
Townsend, who had never competed overseas before, said he was excited to be given the opportunity to take part in competitions which featured up to 3500 gymnasts across all ages and codes.
"I think it will just help provide some really good experience competing overseas.
"I just want to hit clean, good routines while I'm over there, just do the best I can and have fun."
Townsend had been trained by his mother, Gail, for about nine years. Gail, who was also the gymnastics nationals coordinator for Northland, said she was very proud of her son's achievements.
"It's just such a neat opportunity for him, the whole WAGs gym is buzzing with excitement for him," she said.
"It'll be a chance to see some of the top gymnasts in the United States and from other countries."
While it was unknown what level Townsend would be competing at in the United States, Gail said they would be training hard in the months prior to the tour.
"We are already working on some upgraded skills and doing some planning for what his routines might look like, not just for the tour but also for next year's competitions here in NZ."
Townsend's effort was not the only good news for Northland gymnasts. A record number of local gymnasts gave one of the region's best performances at the national championships held this year in Auckland from October 2-5.
Forty-seven athletes from Northland ranging in age from nine to 18 years old competed on the national stage, earning a total of 18 medals (10 gold, three silver and five bronze)
Athletes were included from WAGs, Fantastic Gymnastics, Active Attitude and Kerikeri Gymnastics Club.
Stephanie Crocker: 1st (17yr and over women).
Ben Hori-Elliott: 2nd (11-12yr men), 8th (double mini trampoline).
Tegan Verevis: 3rd (Synchro 17yr and over women, paired with Keira Lloyd, Manukau)
Jared Moggach: 3rd (Synchro 10yr and under men, paired with Timothy Unkovich, Manukau).
Holly Fleming and Emily Dainty: 7th (Synchro 15–16yr women).
Pippa Benton: 1st (17yr and over women).
Ella Howie: 1st (10yr and under women).
Nathaniel Aoina: 6th (13-14yr men).
Caitlin Leathem: 8th (13-14yr women).
Amy Collecutt: 6th (11-12yr women).
Renee Pilon: 8th (11-12yr women).
Shelby Hoyle: 7th (10yr and under women).
Hayden Smith: 3rd (parallel bars, level five men).
Ryan Townsend: 5th (rings, level seven men).
Michelle Crawford: 6th (vault, step nine women).
Aeroschools aerobics Individual level five 9-11yr
Ava Dainty: 1st.
Aeroschools Aerobics Individual level five 12-14yr:
Asha-Rose Horan: 1st.
Jordyn Adams: 2nd.
Annabel McIlhinney: 3rd.
Aeroschools Aerobics Pairs Level 5 12-14yr
Asha-Rose Horan and Jordyn Adams: 1st.
Aeroschools Group Aerodance 9-14yr
Ellie McRae, Asha-Rose Horan, Jordyn Adams, Annabel McIlhinney and Jessica Kalkhoven: 1st.
Group aerodance open 9-14yr:
Brianna Kessell, Emma Lambert, Madi Dackers, Piper West, Willow Clarke and Brooke Foster: 1st.
ADP 3 individual aerobics:
Leah McRae: 3rd.
Open Level three Aerobics Pairs 12-14yr:
Piper West and Madi Dackers: 2nd.
ADP 4 Pair:
Willow Clarke & Brooke Foster: 1st.
International Age group 1 Individual Aerobics:
Grace Christey: 1st.