26 September 2019

Canberra takes centre stage at NZ gymnastics competition

| Tim Gavel
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Rebecca Rainey.

Rebecca Rainey has been with the Canberra City Gymnastics Club (CCGC) since she was four. Photos: Supplied.

Michaela Smith at 16 and Rebecca Rainey at 14 are practically veterans of gymnastics, having been in the sport for close to a decade.

Those countless, gruelling hours of training to make it the top of gymnastics are starting to pay dividends – both have been selected in the Australian team for the Women’s Artistic Championships in New Zealand next month.

It’s not a stretch to suggest the training regime is tough. As tough as any sport. They currently spend 22 hours a week over six days honing their skills morning and night. This, of course, is on top of school and homework.

Michaela has been training with the Canberra City Gymnastics Club (CCGC) for her entire career, starting when she was just six years of age, while Rebecca has been training for gymnastics since she was four years old, before joining the CCGC in 2018.

Michaela Smith.

Michaela Smith has been training with CCGC for her entire career, starting when she was just six years of age.

Both have an incredibly pragmatic approach to the demands of the sport. Rebecca says she is constantly learning.

“We don’t try to make mistakes but we are human and that’s what we do. We fail more times than we succeed in the beginning, but as gymnasts, we learn from our mistakes. We use our mistakes as a fuel for motivation to persist, improve and succeed.”

Michaela says, while gymnastics is considered an individual sport in many respects, there is a strong team element.

“Gymnastics isn’t an easy sport, but what makes it easier is that we are family in the gym and outside. We stick by each other’s side through the hard moments, and that’s what helps us come out on top.”

Selection in the team followed outstanding performances at the Australian National Championships in May. Michaela won bronze on the floor and Rebecca silver on the vault. Since then training has gone into overdrive.

Both girls will travel with their coach, Alexander ‘Sasha’ Kostenko, along with the Australian team to compete in the New Zealand Championships.

Only eight gymnasts were selected in the Australian team. CCGC is the only club to have two athletes named in the national squad for the New Zealand tour. For the Canberra City Gymnastics Club to have two athletes selected in the team is an amazing achievement.

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