11 December 2019. The South African Gymnastics Federation has finished the year with a bang with three junior gymnasts returning home from world events with medals.
The first pair of medals came from the Men and Women’s Junior Artistic Team who attended the Olympic Hopes Cup in Librec, Czech Republic from 28-30 November 2019. The first medal was won by Phiwe Mangaliso Nhleko from TUKS Gymnastics in Gauteng who won silver in the Uneven Bars finals. Phiwe qualified in 8th place for the finals and was the only female gymnast to qualify to an event final. Coach Louis Fourie said “Phiwe performed the most perfect routine, except for some slightly bent arms, I couldn’t fault a thing in her routine.” Cool under the pressure and pulling out her big match temperament saw Phiwe move from 8th to secure the silver medal ahead of tough competitors from around the world, including China.
In the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics competition Luke James, who hails from Pinetown Gymnastics in KZN, was the only South African to reach the finals in Vault. He qualified in 2nd place and pulled out all the stops in the finals to win the gold medal ahead of the Chinese gymnast to be crowned vault champion. Luke also qualified for Floor final where he just missed out on a medal due to stepping out of the lines during his routine leaving him in 4th place. Fellow KZN teammate, Andrew Flynn also qualified for Vault and Parallel Bars finals, but unfortunately came down with flu and could not compete in the two finals.
Ruan Lange from Visions Gymnastics in Gauteng also improved on his performance score by almost 3 points from the World Junior Championships in July to finish a noteworthy 4th place overall. Ruan also qualified for four apparatus finals finishing a consistent 6th on Pommel Horse, 5th on Rings, 6th on Parallel Bars and 6th on High Bar.
These results are especially exciting for the Federation as both Luke and Ruan will rise into the Senior Olympic category next year, just in time for the African Championships Olympic Continental qualification which will bolster our senior team and also provide Ruan with the opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games together with senior gymnast Aiden Maguire from Centurion Gymnastics.
The world medals did not stop there with the South African Gymnastics Trampoline team taking part at the 27th World Age Group competition in Tokyo from 5-8 December 2019. The most notable performance came from Tshepang Mamabolo from KlimGym in Gauteng who qualified in 6th place in the Double-Mini Age 15-16 category. Tshepang improved his score from qualifications by 2.6 points to break through to win the silver medal. Tshepang is coached by previous world double-mini finalist Offering Thlaka and this has been a systematic preparation for a world medal. Tshepang was a finalist in last year’s World Age Group competition and has used his experience to improve to a medal-winner.
All gymnasts will be in action on Friday at the inaugural SA Gymnastics #Perfect10 on Friday at the Rembrandt Hall at TuksSport, University of Pretoria which starts with build up at 15h00 with DJ Arch getting the vibe going and the #MovementDanceChallenge with the showcase from 16h00-18h00 with all the top junior and senior gymnasts from all disciplines and Provinces taking part in a team and individual competition to be crowned the #Perfect10 gymnast and team. Entrance is free on a first come first served basis.