Namibia Primed for Region 5 Action

A POSITIVE showing at the upcoming African Union Sports Council Region 5 Gymnastics Competition will go a long way in lifting the gloom surrounding the code in the country.

Namibia will send 10 gymnasts to the competition organised by the South African Gymnastics Federation in Gauteng from 9 to 14 December. Ironically "the competition is open to all AUSC Region 5 member federations in good standing". Namibian gymnastics code is in turmoil, with the leadership embroiled in a power struggle.

However, this fact has thankfully not jeopardised the opportunity for the country's athletes who will be looking to make their mark at what promises to be an extravaganza.

The competition features men's artistic (MAG), women's artistic (WAG), rhythmic (RG), trampoline (TRA) and aerobic (AER) gymnastics. "We are very excited that we will send two aerobics gymnasts. We did not have any last year. Aerobics is the section most in need of support of all kinds. The gymnasts are mostly from economically challenged communities and the coaches are all teachers who, at their own cost, have advanced themselves as aerobics coaches through programmes funded with our international federation, FIG," Namibia Gymnastics Federation executive president Sonja Olivier said yesterday.

"None of the coaches get additional remuneration for coaching their gymnasts and are using gymnastics as a further tool to uplift the children in their communities.

"We are also expecting great achievements in particular for the individual T&T [tumbling and trampoline] and RG sections," she continued.

"Everyone is looking forward to the competitions. SAGF has arranged for additional workshops on the new disciplines of parkour and teamgym [which combine parts of tumbling, mini tramp and dance to create an exciting team competition event].

This particular competition does not require the blessing of the Namibia Sports Commission which refuses to acknowledge teams selected by the Olivier-led NGF executive council," she said.

Last week the NSC gave national colours to a team, with officials from the Neville Andre-led faction, to represent Namibia at the Olympic Hopes International artistic gymnastics competition in Liberc, Czech Republic. That event started yesterday and concludes on Sunday.

"Region 5 has historically never been a gymnastics foundation for the application of national colours. The gymnasts compete for the federation only," Olivier said.

Namibia will have the following athletes at the Region 5 gymnastics competition:

Women's Artistic Gymnastics - Katie Wolfaardt, Isabella Lopes, Mila Coelho, Sunelle de Bruyn and Kirsten Marais (all pre-junior gymnasts).

Men's Artistic Gymnastics - Ruben Fritz, Marco Jansen, Immanuel Kooper and James Milne-Cindao (all pre-junior gymnasts);

Rhythmic Gymnastics - Wida Wilders and Shayna Schutte.

Trampoline male - Nathan Basson, Marco Jansen and Jordan Barrow (all junior gymnasts). Double Mini male - Nathan Basson, Leon van Wyk and Jordan Barrow.

Tumbling male - Leon van Wyk and James Cindano (both senior gymnasts).

Aerobic gymnastics - Kaitlin Visagie and Saviola Vlees (both junior individual gymnasts).

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