Kayla, 15, takes sec­ond place in top level

Talk of the Town - - Sport - JON HOUZET

LO­CAL gym­nast Kayla Stiekema achieved out­stand­ing results at the Na­tional Cham­pi­onships in Pre­to­ria last week – the top South African gym­nas­tics com­pe­ti­tion for high-per­for­mance gym­nas­tics.

Only Level 9, Olympic en­try and ju­nior and se­nior Olympic gym­nasts could par­tic­i­pate.

Fif­teen-year-old Kayla com­peted at Level 9, a level achieved by very few girls in South Africa.

“There are only five, so they are the cream of the crop,” said Kayla’s mother, Carol-Ann Stiekema, who started coach­ing her daugh­ter 10 years ago.

“Most are from the South African na­tional coach’s gym. Those girls par­tic­i­pate at na­tional train­ing camps – they are high-per­for­mance, spe­cially trained, elite gym­nasts,” Carol-Ann said.

“It’s just in­cred­i­ble that our ‘or­di­nary’ Kayla from Port Al­fred placed sec­ond over­all.”

Kayla achieved sec­ond on floor, sec­ond on beam, sec­ond on bars and fourth on vault.

Carol-Ann gave glory to God for her daugh­ter’s success and thanked all sup­port­ers for pray­ing for Kayla.

An­other lo­cal girl and past Port Al­fred High School pupil, Tay­lor du Plessis, was given special per­mis­sion to be the Eastern Cape’s “coach on the floor” at the cham­pi­onships. Du Plessis also had to judge two ses­sions.

“She was so pro­fes­sional and it was beau­ti­ful see­ing the two Port Al­fred young women to­gether on the floor,” Carol-Ann said.

Du Plessis is a South African Gym­nas­tics Fed­er­a­tion (SAGF) Level 3 judge, which al­lowed her to judge Kayla’s level.

Due to her judg­ing knowl­edge she was able to en­sure the judges al­lo­cated the cor­rect dif­fi­culty val­ues for Kayla’s un­usual rou­tines.

“Kayla prefers to do unique el­e­ments from the In­ter­na­tional Code of Points which can be con­fus­ing un­less you have a thor­ough knowl­edge of the code.

“Coaches are re­quired to en­sure their gym­nasts are treated fairly and Tay­lor was very ef­fec­tive in her role,” Carol-Ann said.

Kayla was also grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to train at Jo­han­nes­burg Gym­nas­tics Club two days be­fore her com­pe­ti­tion. This is the club that pro­duces the ma­jor­ity of South Africa’s na­tional team mem­bers.

“The coaches and gym­nasts em­braced Kayla whole­heart­edly and sup­ported and en­cour­aged her at the com­pe­ti­tion as if she was one of their mem­bers,” Carol-Ann said. “Kayla was so ex­cited to be in a gym train­ing along­side fa­mous South African gym­nasts.”

Carol-Ann said her daugh­ter had had a rough year this year as she had to drop her hours in the gym by a third (due to trav­el­ling to and from Port El­iz­a­beth). She trained on aver­age 16 hours per week.

The Stieke­mas re­cently re­ceived a donation for raf­fling a brand new Pro­line en­try-level lap­top (worth R3 000) in or­der to as­sist in cov­er­ing cur­rent and forth­com­ing costs for Kayla’s train­ing and com­pe­ti­tions.

Tick­ets will be R20 each and the draw will be on Novem­ber 30. Peo­ple who buy five tick­ets (R100), will get a sixth ticket free.

“As op­por­tu­ni­ties open up for Kayla, we will con­tinue to fundraise as the jour­ney be­comes more fi­nan­cially chal­leng­ing the higher you go up the lad­der. We are so grate­ful to peo­ple who have as­sisted us in fundraising this far,” Carol-Ann said.

WHAT A LOT YOU’VE GOT: ‘Coach on the floor’ Tay­lor du Plessis, left, ad­mires the medals won by gym­nast Kayla Stiekema at the re­cent Na­tional Cham­pi­onships in Pre­to­ria

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.