Wanganui Boys and Girls Gym Club member Millie Manning represented New Zealand in the Prime Invitational Gymnastics competition in Singapore on November 8 - the 15-year-old competed strongly and won a gold medal on the floor and a bronze medal on the vault. The competition was attended by athletes from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand had 11 athletes selected for the development team competing in the Invitational and the team took out several gold, silver and bronze medals, as well as a few team placings. The team was accompanied by a Gymsports New Zealand appointed coach, manager and judge who were delighted by the high standard of the New Zealand team. James Keatley, the team coach, said Millie had really improved since the start of the year. Club manager Julie Holden was thrilled with Millie's results. "I am very happy for her, she works very hard and she is a fantastic role model for the club. She is very deserving of her success." Acknowledgment goes to Millie's coach Kelly Taylor-Ward from the Wanganui Boys and Girls Gym Club who encouraged Millie to trial for the Singapore competition and has given so much of her time and knowledge. Millie and her family would like to express their thanks to the many individuals and local businesses in the Wanganui community who donated towards Millie's trip. Without these generous people helping Millie reach her goal, this experience wouldn't have been possible.

Going to Singapore was a phenomenal experience. I remember my coach Kelly telling me that there's an international competition that I should trial for. It left me thinking "wow, I'm actually at this level where I can have the opportunity to trial for international competitions". Once I heard the country was Singapore I couldn't believe it, especially since these types of competitions are usually held in Australia. Then when I found out I got selected for the New Zealand development team to go to Singapore in November, I was thrilled and very excited. This would be my first international experience with gymnastics.
After generous donations and a lot of hard work fundraising I finally reached my goal of $5500. I was completely overwhelmed by the community getting behind me, helping make my goal a reality. But it only hit me once I was on that double-decker plane that I was actually going to Asia. After an exhausting 10-hour flight we finally arrived in beautiful Singapore. As soon as I took a step outside it felt like a great big wall of heat hit my face. But thanks to air-conditioning, I was surviving.
On the first two days we all went on the "hop on, hop off" bus touring around Singapore, while recovering from jet-lag. Then on the Thursday was our podium training day which was good to get a feel of the equipment for the competition. On Friday was the step 8 competition and we all came down to support them. Most of them got a few placings, as well as winning first team. On the Saturday was the step 9 and 10 competition - my debut. My first apparatus was beam which is usually quite a strong apparatus of mine but unfortunately I fell. This frustrated me but I know from being a gymnast that you've just got to get right back up, finish what you've got to finish and never give up. This is what I did which helped me to gain my success by getting first on the floor and third on the vault. I couldn't believe it until I was standing on that podium with these heavy gold and bronze medals around my neck. This helped me realise that in order to gain success and overcome your obstacles, you need to stay determined and never give in On the last four days in Singapore we all went to places like the Night Safari where we journeyed through seven of the world's geographic regions, from the Indian subcontinent where we saw majestic tigers, to the Asian riverine forest, seeing Malaysian tapirs and magnificent elephants. We also went to the Universal Studios where we went on movie rides such as Madagascar, Shrek, Transformers, Sesame Street and a cool Egyptian Mummy ride (which was my favourite). My favourite part of the trip would have to be all the lovely people surrounding me, as I wouldn't have enjoyed it without that. Also, the experience of competing in Singapore, representing New Zealand will be a lifelong memory. After this experience I am so thankful for all the support that everyone has put in to help me fulfil my goal. Special thanks to my coach Kelly and to all supporters and local businesses that donated. I am truly grateful and couldn't have done this without you.