Christchurch gymnasts take the floor
Christchurch has consolidated its reputation as a gymnastics stronghold, boasting half the New Zealand team selected for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games next month.
Six Christchurch-based athletes - five from the Christchurch School of Gymnastics (CSG) and one from Olympia - were rubber-stamped for selection by the New Zealand Olympic Committee yesterday.
All five members in the women's artistic team are out of the CSG, as are national coaches Jozsi Ferencz and Svetlana Sazonova, while CSG chief executive Avril Enslow is also Glasgow-bound - as a judge.
Leading the team is Courtney McGregor, 15, who is considered a medal prospect, particularly in the vault.
She 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.
All-rounders Charlotte Sullivan, Mackenzie Slee, Brittany Robertson and Anna Tempero complete the team.
Slee (Hutt Valley), Robertson (Auckland) and Tempero (Blenheim) all moved to Christchurch within the last 18 months to train at the CSG.
Christchurch is also represented in rhythmic disciplines, with five-times New Zealand champion Amelia Coleman, 17, selected on the team.
Coleman has extensive international experience having competed at the 2013 Pesaro World Cup. She has lived and trained in Russia with the top coaches in the sport.
New Zealand will send full men's and women's artistic teams (five athletes each) and have a total of 12 gymnasts in Glasgow.
"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, which will gather in London for a training camp prior to the Games opening on July 24 (NZ time).
New Zealand has won 10 medals in gymnastics disciplines at the Commonwealth Games, the most recent of which won by current men's team coach, David Phillips, who secured bronze at Kuala Lumpur in 1998.