Taking that giant leap of faith in the hope things will somehow fall into place is a crossroads many athletes encounter at some stage of their lives.

But for Hawke's Bay athletes Thomas Dew and Zayne Coffey it is something they have had to do incrementally from the time they found traction with gymnastics.

No doubt it comes with a few moments that question their constitution but it hasn't been a deterrent yet for the 18-year-old Omni Gymnastic Centre members from Napier.

"I've had a couple of dislocated fingers and stuff like that and a few neck injuries that became ambulance jobs to the hospital," says Coffey, who will compete in his maiden three-day Australian Championship and international at the Hisense Arena, Melbourne, from today.


For Dew and Coffey making the apparatus finals will be "awesome" so that means they'll be able to let their competitive juices flow into Saturday for a chance at winning medals in the level nine open male grade.

They will compete in all six — floor, vault, parallel bars, high bar, pommel and ring — disciplines.

Making the cut will be a fulfilment in itself but claiming bling will make it more memorable.

"I'm not nervous at the moment but I'm sure when we get there I'll be pretty nervous," says Coffey, whose raw thrill of trampolining in the backyard had prepared him well for the induction into a minority sport in New Zealand.

The St John's College year 13 pupil follows the edict that risks and mistakes help mould a steely template in a code that demands hard work.

The pair put in about three hours after school to refine their skills in vaulting, tumbling and flipping off bars.

Coffey, who has been under the tutelage of Jo Cox, of Hastings, since he was 8, played myriad codes but nothing could eclipse gymnastics for the former St Mary's School pupil in Hastings.

"I played rugby and soccer for a few years. I used to do motocross until I was 13 then I dropped that too to focus on gymnastics," he says.

Coffey, who is indebted to mother Dale for chauffeuring him around, intends to compete in more international events but realises the importance of moving to Auckland where bigger facilities and more experienced coaches are accessible.

The timing is perfect for the teenager, who will embark on tertiary education in electrical engineering in the big smoke from next year.

He dares to harbour Olympic dreams but appreciates he has to tick all the key boxes along the way to create that lofty platform. His favourite disciplines are high bar, parallel bars and pommel.

While it is Dew's first Aussie champs, he's savvy in the international surrounds considering he is in his 16th year with the sport.

Zayne Coffey (left) and Thomas Dew will fly the Omni Gymnastic Centre flag from Napier at the Australian Championship from today. Photo / Duncan Brown
Zayne Coffey (left) and Thomas Dew will fly the Omni Gymnastic Centre flag from Napier at the Australian Championship from today. Photo / Duncan Brown

In December last year the former Taradale High School pupil competed at a Texas event in the United States where he finished fourth on the floor routine and eighth in vault.

Consequently he has raised the bar today and is quietly confident about getting on the podium in Melbourne .

"I'd also like to get into the rings finals and, overall, I'd prefer to get a medal on the floor, in particular, because I'm trying to beat what I did in Texas," says the first-year EIT student.

It helped that his mother, Michelle Dew, and father Bryan have been supportive.

"At 2, your mum takes you to the gym and you just run around doing all sorts of crazy stuff."

But unlike Coffey, whose mother had delved in gymnastics in her heyday, Dew's parents had no affiliation to the code.

When the family were living Whanganui, where Dew was 6, an advertisement of a nearby gym had caught the eye of Michelle and the rest is history.

She had encouraged her elder son, Chris, now 20 and attending Victoria University, to take up the sport but he had given up on it a few years later.

For the former Porritt School and Tamatea Intermediate pupil there's no romantic notion with disciplines as such — it's the whole gamut.

"Training is such a big part of gymnastics. You're doing hours of it whereas when competitions come around you do three hours of it and they're done.

"I really enjoy being in the gym and working on my skills."

Dew is mindful gymnastics is a common denominator to embracing other codes but wasn't compelled to embark on that route.

Touch wood, he hasn't had any serious injuries but is dealing with a niggly ankle injury.

He salutes Cox's perseverance, considering she started coaching because no one else was available.

Emulating techniques from Olympics on TV and YouTube have been the norm but he suspects having a professional coach based in the Bay will give them more discipline.