NZ gymnast David Bishop floored by success

FRED WOODCOCK IN GLASGOW
Last updated 05:00 02/08/2014
HIGH FLYER: NZ gymnast David Bishop hurls himself through the air during his bronze medal-winning floor routine at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Lawrence Smith/Fairfax NZ

HIGH FLYER: NZ gymnast David Bishop hurls himself through the air during his bronze medal-winning floor routine at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

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David Bishop was into rugby and football as a youngster but his mother always knew gymnastics was his passion, from the time he started doing flips in the backyard.

He took up the sport as a seven-year-old and yesterday lived out a 17-year-old dream when he claimed a shock bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.

The mechanical engineering student from Auckland was just eight years old when his coach, David Phillips, won New Zealand's last gymnastics medal, also bronze in the men's floor at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur.

They are both at the same club in Auckland, the Tri Star club, and in a nice piece of symmetry Bishop has himself started coaching youngsters.

They will surely be inspired by his feats in Glasgow, as he was by Phillips' 16 years ago.

The 24-year-old took a year off study to focus solely on the Games, training 30+ hours a week while working part-time. That dedication, he said, has well and truly paid off.

He plans to complete his degree next year and his future, after the world championships in October, remains up in the air.

''Everything I've been doing up till now has been about now. I'll reflect on my gymnastics after the Commonwealths and make a decision about whether I continue or not.

''It depends on whether I can afford to train, because it's hard. I really enjoy doing coaching and I'd coach more if I had the time.''

Proud parents Stephen and Rosanne and sisters Nicola and Sarah were in the stands, but his other sister, Aimee, was at home with her three-month-old.

Mother Rosanne was still in shock two hours after watching her son claim the surprise medal, and who could blame her?

Bishop had qualified seventh of eight starters for the final. He was first-up and scored a solid 14.550 for his uncomplicated routine, an improvement on his qualifying score of 14.366, but then watched as others faltered.

Only England's Max Whitlock, the all-around champion, and Canadian Scott Morgan would top his score though it was a close-run thing; Scotland's Daniel Keating came within 0.017 points of snatching bronze away from the Kiwi.

''It's incredible. It's been my ultimate goal and for it to happen is surreal really, I'm still waiting for it to settle in,'' floor specialist Bishop said.

''My mouth dropped when I found out I had a medal. Things went my way today and I'm incredibly proud to represent New Zealand and do well here.''

Bishop and Phillips, the New Zealand men's team coach, looked at each other in near disbelief and Bishop reckons they were speechless, until one of them said ''Holy ....''

''It was a great routine under pressure,'' Phillips said.

''We were hopeful for a medal, but we knew the others had to be off their game. The top three qualifiers are world class athletes.''

Most of the field were professionals, Phillips said, adding further weight to Bishop's achievement in what is a strong sport at Commonwealth level. Gymnastics in New Zealand gets no high performance government funding.

''It's incredible that David could crack the top-three.''

Phillips said the medal was a great boost for the sport in New Zealand, and Bishop said he had been motivated to ''do it'' for gymnasts back home.

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Phillips said: ''This matters a lot to us. We do it for the love the sport so the sacrifice doesn't matter, but it's just that Dave was able to have a good crack and get a medal.

Phillips said the New Zealand men's team was hoping to crack the top-24 at the world champs which is the first cut off for Olympics.

''That would be a big step up for New Zealand gymnastics''.

There were no Kiwi gymnasts at the London Olympics two years ago.

- Stuff

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