Commonwealth Games gymnastics team named
New Zealand will send full men's and women's artistic gymnastics teams to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next month.
Artistic teams of five men and five women have been signed off on by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, with two rhythmic gymnasts taking the total team tally to 12.
Leading the women's artistic team was Christchurch's Courtney McGregor, 15, who was considered the top medal prospect, particularly in the vault.
All-rounders Charlotte Sullivan, Mackenzie Slee, Brittany Robertson and Anna Tempero completed the team, with all five of the women's squad members of the Christchurch School of Gymnastics.
McGregor was New Zealand's first female gymnast to make a World Cup final (in Doha, Qatar in March) and win a medal at the prestigious Pacific Rim championships, a couple of weeks later in Vancouver.
Now, with a focus on increasing levels of difficulty on vault, McGregor and her teammates provided an opportunity for New Zealand to record strong individual and team scores.
"The women's team has focused on increasing the difficulty of the routines and are now exhibiting skills that have been rarely seen in Oceania," GymSports NZ boss Sarah Ashmole said.
"Courtney, in particular, has two very difficult vaults which, until 2014, had only been done by New Zealand male gymnasts.
"The competition at Glasgow will be tough, but we are expecting finals performances from the women with the possibility of a medal in an individual apparatus event."
Commonwealth Games veterans Matthew Palmer (2010) and Mikhail (Misha) Koudinov (2006 and 2010) lead a strong men's artistic team with opportunities expected to arise on the individual apparatus, including rings where Palmer hopes to deliver one of the highest levels of difficulty in the competition.
The men's team, which secured a total of nine medals at the recent Australian championships in Melbourne, also comprised David Bishop, Kristofer Done and Reid McGowan.
In the rhythmic discipline, Kelly McDonald joined five-time New Zealand champion Amelia Coleman in targeting finals spots in Glasgow.
McDonald has recently lost her mother to illness and Ashmole credited the 20-year old with strength and resolve.
"She has kept her focus through all the difficulties of her personal situation and is one of the strongest minded athletes GymSports New Zealand has seen," she said.
The women's gymnastics team has a strong base in Christchurch with members of the men's team training in Auckland and the United States.
The men's team will gather in London for a training camp prior to the Commonwealth Games opening on July 24 (NZT).
New Zealand has won 10 medals in gymnastics disciplines at the Commonwealth Games, the most recent of which was won by current men's team coach, David Phillips, who secured bronze at Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Charlotte Sullivan, 16 - Christchurch School of Gymnastics
Courtney McGregor, 15 - Christchurch School of Gymnastics
Mackenzie Slee, 16 - Christchurch School of Gymnastics
Brittany Robertson, 17 - Christchurch School of Gymnastics
Anna Tempero, 19 - Christchurch School of Gymnastics
Kristofer (Kris) Done, 22 - North Harbour Gymnastics Centre
Mikhail (Misha) Koudinov, 22 - North Harbour Gymnastics Centre
David Bishop, 24 - Tri Star Gymnastics, Auckland
Reid McGowan, 21 - Tri Star Gymnastics, Auckland
Matt Palmer, 27 - Tri Star Gymnastics, Auckland
Kelly MacDonald - Xtreme Rhythmic (Auckland)
Amelia Coleman - Olympia Gymnastic Sports (Christchurch)