01 March 2019. Newly appointed SA Gymnastics Federation (SAGF) CEO, Anne Vermaak has just received confirmation that the world visionary of gymnastics, International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) President, Morinari Watanabe will be arriving in Cape Town for a whirlwind 36 hour tour as part of his vision of focusing on development and ‘creating a customised development plan for each continent, from the weaker regions of the sport to the strongest countries in the world’.
Whilst in Cape Town Watanabe and FIG Secretary General, Mr Nicolas Buompane will meet with Anne Vermaak and 1st Vice President, Mr Donny Jurgens regarding SAGF as well as African Gymnastics Union (UAG) 1st Vice President, Elizabeth Cameron Smith and FIG Development Officer for Africa, Mr Tseko Mogotsi to discuss strategies for developing gymnastics in Africa.
The delegation will then visit Mega Gymnastics Club, one of the Western Cape’s high level clubs, as well as Jump It Rope Skipping Academy in Khayelitsha who are home to some of the top Rope Skippers in the country and a recognised SAGF Gymnastics Hub.
This will form an important part of Watanabe’s visit – as for him growth in gymnastics and innovation in sport always puts the gymnasts and spectators first.
Born in Japan in 1959, Watanabe only took up gymnastics himself at the late age of 16 – but a relentless passion for the sport as well as an astounding vision of how to grow and develop gymnastics has recently seen him appointed as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in October 2018.
One of his most recent campaigns was to form the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation with an international hotline for any athlete in distress.
Further as a great believer in fair and transparent sportsmanship – he has been responsible for initiating the design and formation of a ‘3 dimensional’ judging system to help eradicate the chances of ‘human error’ in judging which can result in many heart-breaking results for gymnasts.
To get a further insight into what makes Watanabe tick – watch clip and interview with this truly great visionary.
We are so looking forward to meeting with him and feeding off his passion and true belief that he will make ‘gymnastics the king of sports’.