A small club with big results

Pictured: Back row from left, Marshall Watson, Thomas Mitchell, James Watson and Charlie Nisbet. Front row: Bella Soper.

Aspiring Gymsports Gymnastic Club, sent a team to the Otago Gymnastic Championships in Dunedin last weekend and coach Rae Paterson is happy to report there were great performances by all team members. 

The team attained some high marks with placings across all apparatus and age groups. 

Men’s level one: Charlie Nisbet third on high bar and second on parallel bars; and Marshall Watson, first in pommel, high bar and rings, placing second overall in Otago. 

Mens level two: James Watson first on vault, third on pommel, third on floor, third overall in Otago. Men’s level three: Thomas Mitchell placed third on vault and second on floor. All these results represent a small club which is punching above its weight for a small regional club with a very small space.

In the women’s senior competition, Bella Soper had a two-day competition. She was placed first overall in Otago and qualified for apparatus finals the following day, where she placed first on floor, first on beam, and third on vault. Soper was awarded the Step Seven Otago Champion Trophy and also the Noeline Munro Trophy for the highest execution score out of all gymnasts competing in the Championships. Soper has now qualified to compete for Otago, in the New Zealand Gymnastic Championships in Auckland from October 2-6. 

“Bella has been our top gymnast and has continued to develop her skills every year, against the odds,” said Paterson. “She is competing against others who train up to 20 hours per week in much larger gyms with top class equipment. This is the fourth year Bella has competed at a national level and will be her third year competing for Otago at the New Zealand champs.”

“At the Otago champs recently, her performances were noted by senior NZ gymnastic judges, one of which who has judged at the Rio Olympics. Bella started out at Mini Muscles as a baby and has progressed through all of our club rec classes to the competitive squad. She has been the Otago champion in nearly every step in which she has competed and has an exciting future should she continue her gymnastics career.” 

Soper is in Year 9 at MAC and has two three-hour training sessions per week in the gym plus two hours on an injury prevention, strength and development programme. “Most other gymnasts at this level train up to 20 hours per week. She is an outstanding athlete,” said Paterson. 

“Bella is working hard to upgrade vault and beam difficulty for her next competition in Timaru at the South Island Championships in September.” 


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