Talented sisters back up with national title victories
After becoming national champions in their chosen sports last year, two Hamilton sisters have done it a second time around.
Courtney Kelly, 15, last month took out three categories at the National Gymsports Artistic Championships in Blenheim, then later that month her 12-year-old sister, Chelsea, won the senior (11-14 years) girls' under-36kg title at the National Judo Championships in Christchurch.
Both girls also won North Island titles this year.
Courtney, who is in year 10 at Hamilton's Fraser High School, won the floor, beam and uneven bars events at the nationals in the step 10 division, after last year taking out the step nine floor title.
"It was good, I did better than last year, got more gold medals," she said. "All of them were pretty good but it was just cool that I won floor both years, that's one of my stronger ones."
Courtney had a hard road to her title, only competing in about half of the lead-up competitions.
After a five-week layoff with a sprained ankle, she then suffered an injury to her other foot in her first competition back, which put her out for another month.
But she came back strongly, with the step 10 level involving harder skills and different routines to last year, and she is planning on working on some new moves ahead of next year's competitions.
Courtney's training takes up a lot of her time, as she travels to and from Rotorua's Mid-Island Gym Sports Club four times a week. "I go there because of my coach [former Chinese Olympian] Dong Fangxiao, because she's one of the best. And we also have her husband, Terry, he coaches us as well."
Meanwhile, Chelsea, who is in year 7 at St Peter Chanel School, followed on from her victory in the under-32kg grade last year. She said she felt a lot of pressure to win again after taking out a national title last time round, but that helped spur her on to victory.
Up against the same opponent as she faced last year, the duo had three fights to decide the title, with Chelsea losing the first but then winning the second and then claiming the decider by ippon, as she threw her opponent onto her back. "I just tried to do my best and keep trying, not give up," Chelsea said, adding it was "really cool" to be a national champion, particularly for a second successive year.
Chelsea trains two nights a week at the Henkada Judo Club, in Hamilton.
"There's not really any competitions now so I'm just working on for next year and trying to get better, get some more moves."