Four Namibian youngsters returned with an assortment of medals and enhanced skills from recent international rhythmic gymnastics competitions in Bulgaria.
The quartet of Jayd Pretorius, Roche Tromp, Danell Pesch and Kayla Duchaine are all members of the Elite Gymnastics Club, and took part in three international rhythmic gymnastics competitions and training camps.
They were accompanied by coaches Eleonora Karamfilova and Madison Rust.
The girls started with a training camp from 12 to 18 May, working on their technique and posture, and perfecting their routines ahead of the competitions from 19 to 24 May.
“It was an amazing opportunity to be able to compete against some of the best European gymnasts. I will always treasure my experience in Bulgaria.
“I have learnt so much and can apply it to my career as a gymnast for the rest of my life,” Pretorius (9) said yesterday.
The first international competition was the Slavia Cup, a tournament hosted in memory of the great Bulgarian gymnastics coach Emilia Boneva.
About 1 000 female gymnasts from Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Armenia, Romania, Cyprus, Brazil, Congo, Greece and Namibia participated.
Pretorius and Tromp participated in the Benjamins 2013 age group, while Pesch and Duchaine were part of the Juniors (age group 2010).
Pretorius scooped a gold medal for the club routine event, and placed fourth in the free dance and the hoop dance.
She was also voted Miss Charming.
Tromp won gold for her rope routine, while she was in fifth position in the free dance category, and sixth in the hoop dance to place ninth overall.
Pesch earned silver medals for the clubs and ribbon routines, plus a bronze for hoops.
Duchaine got gold for her ribbon routine to go with two silvers in the hoop and ball routines.
“Everything was new, much larger, but exciting. It felt unreal to perform in front of so many great gymnasts.
“I will always treasure the spectacular experience. I cannot wait to do it again,” says Duchaine (12).
The girls proceeded to Pazardjik, Bulgaria, for their second competition, where Pretorius scooped a gold medal in the clubs routine, and a silver medal for free dancing. She also won the overall gold medal in her division.
Similarly, Duchaine walked away with a gold medal for the clubs routine and silver in the hoop dance.
Tromp collected two bronze medals for the free dancing and rope routines. Likewise, Pesch earned two bronzes for her hoop and club routines.
“It was exciting and nervous and fun. I was really glad I went. It was a fun experience. I saw so many things and learned from the gymnast dancers,” Tromp (9) says.
The gymnasts continued with training camps for the 10th Nuance Cup that took place on 24 May in Sofia, where Pretorius bagged a gold medal for hoop routine and ninth position overall, while Tromp was fifth in the rope routine and 12th overall.
Duchaine topped the ribbon contest to get a gold medal and was sixth in the hoops, with Pesch managing seventh position in clubs and eighth in hoops.
“My trip to Bulgaria was absolutely fantastic. The people were very friendly, and it was very interesting to experience Bulgaria’s culture and delicious food,” Pesch (12) says.
“The competitions were all fun and it was a great experience to compete internationally against these gymnasts. I quite enjoyed the sightseeing and historical buildings.
“I am very thankful to Elite Rhythmic Club that made it possible for us to have this trip,” she says.
The club thanks “parents who had to dig deep into their pockets to get their children to the competitions”, and hopes for more support from the nation to enable the gymnasts “to continue to compete in other international competitions”.