Work pays off in big medal haul

Southland entrants have returned with a swag of medals from the national artistic gymnastics championships in Blenheim.

Southland's 12-strong contingent achieved the province's best ever result - with 12 medals being won. It was a massive improvement from the team, with Southland winning just one medal, two years ago, and three, last year.

Southland's success rewarded some dedicated training from the gymnasts, and the work of coaches Jane Bylsma and Emma Hunt.

Bylsma also gave credit to Hokitika-based coach Howard Hill, who has been involved with the Southland regional development training squad this year.

St Peter's College student India Henry, who finished first overall in the level eight category of the Gymnastics in Paradise international competition in Hawaii earlier this year, shone for Southland. She was first in the uneven bars, beam and vault, and third in the floor, in the Step 9 class apparatus finals. She was also second in the all-around finals.

Southland's other medallists were Jessica Ballantyne (James Hargest College junior), who finished third in the Step 5 vault, Imogen Peterson (James Hargest junior) second in the Step 5 vault, Jaidene Marshall (Myross Bush School) third in the Step 6 uneven bars, and Karisa Webster, who placed third in the Step 8 vault.

Karisa's twin sister, Kaley, was second in the Step 7 all around competition, to go along with a third in the beam and uneven bars in the apparatus finals.

Southland also had two boys competing at the nationals for the first time in several years, with both Sean Burrows (James Hargest junior) and Slade Smith (Tokanui School) performing strongly, but finishing out of medal contention in the level four all-around section. Their coach was Ranan Feit.

The national trampolining, aerobic and rhythmic gymnastics nationals will be held at Dunedin's Edgar Centre from today through to Saturday.

The Southland Times