After nine years of competition, two of Nelson's most successful gymnasts will fold away the leotards and retire at the conclusion of the Artistic Gymnastics National Championships in Blenheim next week.
More than 400 competitors from across the country will be aiming for the all-round titles in teams, individual events and also apparatus at the Gym Sports New Zealand event from October 3 to 6 at Stadium 2000.
The Top of the South team is a strong but supple team this year, with 26 gymnasts representing the region and 19 of this team coming from Gymnastics Nelson.
Leading the team and set for their last dismount are Dana Brown and Monica Nelson.
Brown and Nelson are the top female gymnasts from Nelson competing in Step 8. Both were successful last year and have had some top results leading into the national event. Nelson and Brown have both placed in the top three at all competitions this year.
Both gymnasts are capable of medals in the AA and apparatus, with Brown being named the South Island Champion on the beam in Timaru early in September. Nothing could separate the pair as they finished second-equal at the nationals in Step 7 last year, where Brown won the vault title and Nelson was third on beam. This will be Brown's sixth nationals and Nelson's fifth.
In Step 7, Aimee Macquet took the beam title at South Island champs recently and is looking good to win a medal on this apparatus.
Step 6 has two teams entered this year which in itself shows the strength of the team.
Georgia Ewers placed 2nd at Nationals last year, 1st on Floor and has continued her medal streak this year at all competitions. Ewers, Ella Nicholls, Holly Millar and Madison Buscke (Blenheim) make the first team for Step 6 and will be looking to place in both the teams and individual events.
In Step 5, Solmaz Bakhshi, who is the South Island vault champion, and Hannah Reade, the South Island bar champion. Both have had a very successful year and are looking for top honours in their first nationals.
Leading the male gymnasts from Nelson is Dan Parker, one of the leading contenders in level eight. With no other competition in the South Island, he will be up against six North Island gymnasts, many of which he beat to take out the National Secondary Schools Championships in August.
In what could be another loss for the region's talent pool, Parker is expecting to head offshore to university next year. Karyn Brown, of Gymnastics Nelson, said Parker "will be a great loss to the local club as a gymnast and a coach."
Sam Fu-Allen was building well for a solid nationals performance until a spectacular crash on the high bar and more recent illness has led to his withdrawal.
Fu-Allen's younger brother William will team up with Josiah Kirk and two Blenheim gymnasts in the Level 4 event. Both Nelson gymnasts recently placed in competitions with Kirk winning the South Island champs and taking first place on four apparatus.
Rounding out the male gymnasts from Nelson is Joe Williamson in Level 6. The national junior squad member missed two competitions earlier in the season, but still aims to finish strongly. This is usually a closely contested level and Brown said Williamson will need to be at his best to be rewarded with a medal in the all-round competition.
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