Kayla, 15, takes second place in top level
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