01 April 2019. The South African Gymnastics Federation (SAGF) announces today that Elizabeth Cameron Smith, President (2015 – 2019) has resigned from the organisation. Elizabeth will still fill the position of African Gymnastics Union (UAG) 1st Vice President and will now have more time to focus on helping to develop Gymnastics in Africa. Mr Donny Jurgens, a seasoned Sports Administrator in South Africa and founding member of the National Sports Council (NSC) has been appointed as the acting President.
Elizabeth, considered by most to be the ‘mother of Gymnastics in South Africa’ has been involved in the sport for 52 years, initially in the capacity as coach, judge, technical official and then administrator. She progressed up the ranks to position of CEO and President. During this time SAGF grew from 4 disciplines to 9.
Elizabeth’s extensive experience in public relations, sports marketing, event and financial management combined with her extensive technical experience, provided her with the tools to address the business aspects of sports development. She created a sound administration structure leading the SAGF to winning the FIG Award for being in the top 10 FIG countries for its Administration for 3 consecutive years (2016, 2017, 2018).
Elizabeth’s accolades over the years are substantial and far too many to mention. These extend from her winning 2 Presidential Awards for both coaching (1977) and administration (2002); being appointed as team manager of the first gymnastics team to compete internationally after 25 years of isolation in 1991 in the USA; to representing Sport on the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid. Elizabeth is recognised and known extensively in international and sports circles having represented South Africa at conferences and meetings in countries throughout the world including Russia, Cuba and North Korea. Elizabeth also enabled South Africa to host major events like numerous SA Cups, the 2009 World Rope-Skipping Championships and the 2013 World Gym for Life Challenge in Cape Town.
Elizabeth’s passion and commitment has always been to further and develop gymnastics in South Africa, Africa and the International Gymnastics Federation. She strived to drive transformation and forge partnerships with school structures and community projects. She established a transformation structure within the SAGF, opening doors and involving thousands of PDI gymnasts and empowering and developing a new generation of coaches, judges and administrators. She assisted in the development of girls and women in both gymnastics and sport via self-development courses. She has encouraged women to take leadership roles leading by example by being the first SAGF women President.
Elizabeth’s desire has been to make gymnastics accessible to all people in South Africa and she has made it her mission in life to try and give everyone the opportunity to reach their dreams through gymnastics – either as a gymnast, coach, judge, volunteer, to the SAGF staff.
The SAGF is thankful to Elizabeth for her insurmountable contributions over the many years.