Win­ning start for young rhyth­mic gymnasts

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ERIN TASKER

Just a few short months into its life, Olympia Gym­nas­tic Sports Ash­bur­ton has al­ready pro­duced its first Can­ter­bury cham­pion.

The club sent a team to the Can­ter­bury Cham­pi­onships last week­end, where Leilani Davis won level three, com­ing first in hoop and free, with Leah John­son sev­enth over­all, while in level two Ar­nica Co­p­land won, af­ter com­ing first in free and rope. In level one, Marama Har­ri­son was sec­ond in free, and fifth over­all.

The cham­pi­onships at­tracted around 200 com­peti­tors from all over New Zealand, and it was just the sec­ond com­pet­i­tive out­ing for most of the young gymnasts, the first be­ing a club com­pe­ti­tion the week­end prior. There, Co­p­land came first in rope, Har­ri­son sec­ond over all, Davis third in hoop and Chelsea Sara third in free.

Olympia Gym­nas­tic Sport Ash­bur­ton is a satel­lite club to Christchurch’s Olympia Gym­nas­tic Sport, and gen­eral man­ager Kathryn Searle said Ash­bur­ton coach Michelle Smith-Co­p­land had worked tire­lessly to get the group up and run­ning, and teach­ing them all they know.

Smith-Co­p­land said she had no idea if rhyth­mic would take off in Ash­bur­ton, and was sur­prised and happy at how far the girls had come.

‘‘I wasn’t sure how it would pan out, but I quickly re­alised there were a lot of ca­pa­ble girls that could com­pete, so we just went for it re­ally,’’ Smith-Co­p­land said.

The Lion Foun­da­tion has re­cently do­nated $5000 to the club to go to­wards the pur­chase of new mats.

(Back row) Ar­nica Co­p­land, Ge­or­gia Shanks, Leah John­son, Le­lani Davis, Ella Shanks (mid­dle), (front row) Chelsea Sara and Marama Har­ri­son.

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