SA to host African Gymnastics Champs

first_img16 January 2014 South Africa’s leading gymnasts will take on the continent’s best when the University of Pretoria hosts the 12th African Gymnastics Championships from 25 March to 4 April. Both men and women will compete in the artistic competition, while the women will also contest the rhythmic disciplines. Much will be expected of Cameron MacKenzie and Kirsten Beckett, who will be at the forefront of the South African team’s challenge.‘A welcome shot in the arm’ After spending a decade abroad, MacKenzie provided South African gymnastics with a welcome shot in the arm when he returned from the United Kingdom in October, having represented Great Britain at junior and senior level. He was a member of the Huntingdon Club, which also produced Olympic medal winners Louis Smith, Daniel Keatings and Sam OldhamAchievements MacKenzie’s list of achievements includes representing Britain at the World School Games in Qatar in 2009 and being part of the Great Britain National Gymnastics squad that won team gold at the Junior European Championships in 2010. That same year he won gold in the Junior Men’s All-Around at the Bumbo Cup in South Africa. More recently, in 2013, MacKenzie placed sixth in the Senior Men’s All-Around at the British Championships in Liverpool.Commonwealth Games places In the South African artistic trials last year, he confirmed his pedigree by finishing first in the all-round competition. After also excelling in the apparatus finals he secured a place in the South African team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, along with Tiaan Olivier, Kirsten Beckett and Claude Cummings. MacKenzie’s UK coach Paul Hall has been signed up to help with a training plan for the both the South African junior and senior men’s artistic gymnastics teams. Kirsten Beckett Beckett, aged 17, first competed outside of Africa in 2008. Last year, in the International Gymnastics Magazine, John Crumlish wrote: “Beckett’s achievements in 2012 continue the momentum generated by South African teammate [and 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medal winner in the vault] Jennifer Khwela earlier in the Olympic cycle”. In 2013, Beckett was South Africa’s top performer in her first visit to the World Championships. She is ranked ninth on the floor in the latest International Gymnastics Federation world rankings, up from 24th in 2012. She is also ranked 12th on the vault, and 49th on the uneven bars.Revival Gymnastics South Africa is aiming to use the African Championships to help spearhead a revival of the country’s international fortunes, which peaked in 1998 at the Commonwealth Games when Simon Hutcheon won gold in the men’s vault, Christian Brezeanu captured silver in the vault and on the floor, and Athol Myhill won bronze on the rings.Support To show your support for Gymnastics South Africa, visit the 12th African Gymnastics Championships pages on Facebook and Twitter. SAinfo reporter and 12th African Gymnastics Championshipslast_img