Caitlin Rooskrantz Relishing the Opportunity to Represent SA Once Again at the Olympics

Caitlin Rooskrantz has been a marvel and such a champion for Gymnastics South Africa and the nation as a whole. The Commonwealth Games bronze medalist has booked a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics, and is aiming to produce another personal best, improving on her 61st position finish at the Tokyo Olympics. 

She tells the story of how she found out that she has qualified to participate on one of the biggest stages in world sport. “I was in a plane. We were actually on our way, on our first flight back from Belgium and my Coach had bought Wi-Fi so she could keep up to date and then I saw the results and saw that it was official that I’d qualified.”

The 2022 Ministerial Awards recipient at the Momentum gsport Awards last year was also very instrumental in ensuring that Team South Africa earn their best finish at the World Championships in Belgium, an unprecedented 19th position.

“I believe that South African gymnastics is starting to really grow and really gain some momentum. We have been working very hard the last couple of years and there’s been a lot of talent that has come through the ranks and I think it was one of the first years that we really had a very strong and competitive Team.” 

As she gears up for another major career milestone, Caitlin says more support for the sport could go a long way. “We are in a club where we do a lot of our fundraising ourselves and we have the help of our Federation and SASCOC and that’s it. So I do believe that gymnastics, South Africa deserves a lot more attention, recognition and support in all different ways. Financially, especially: Gymnastics is a very expensive sport, and it does deserve the help and support.”

Senior gsport writer, Lonwabo Nkohla, caught up with the soon to be “Two-Time Olympian.”

Caitlin congratulations on qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, take us back to that moment when you realised that you’ve made it.

Going back to the moment when I realised it was actually an interesting moment because I was in a plane. We were actually on our way, on our first flight back from Belgium, and my Coach had bought Wi-Fi so she could keep up to date, and then I saw the results and saw that it was official: That I’d qualified, and she came up to my seat and she just showed me a thumbs up, and I burst into tears … 

It was a very emotional moment for a lot of us, because my condition did not go exactly as we expected and had planned. But I kept fighting to the very bitter end and we prayed very hard. So yes, it was a very special moment, a big moment that I will definitely cherish.

You were also very instrumental in leading Team SA to a historic 19th place in Belgium, talk us about the steady growth of the team. 

Team South Africa managed to get a historic 19th place finish which was the best thing I think that we could have asked for. Exceeding all expectations. We came to these world championships as a fresh and a very new team. We had not sent a team to the World Championships in many years. It was the first time that we managed to send a team under these qualification criteria, of the only being the top team in Africa going to world.

I believe that South African gymnastics is starting to really grow and really gain some momentum. We have been working very hard the last couple of years, and there’s been a lot of talent that has come through the ranks, and I think it was one of the first years that we really had a very strong and competitive Team that we were able to win at African Champs, and go on to the World Championships, where we had 16 for 16 clean routines by everyone, and obviously also managing to then place a historic 19th place! 

Gymnastics South Africa is only on a trajectory going up and there’s a lot more great talent to come.

Gymnastics, still falls under minority sports in SA. Do you feel that more could be done to shine and highlight the incredible work that you all have done as a team, and the technical team behind you. 

Yes, I definitely believe, personally, that there could be a lot more of support, and I think just recognition for South African gymnastics. I think I’ve done a lot over the last couple of years. We’ve had a lot of historic results and we’ve shown that we are really starting to become more and more competitive on the world stage.

We are in a club where we do a lot of our fundraising ourselves, and we have the help of our Federation and SASCOC and that’s it. So I do believe that gymnastics, South Africa deserves a lot more attention, recognition and support in all different ways. Financially, especially gymnastics is a very expensive sport, and it does deserve the help and support. And I believe that if this is what we’re doing with minimal support that the it’s unimaginable what we could do with a lot more support from all angles.

The year is almost over, which mean Paris is fast approaching: How are you preparing for this big stage?

The World Championships was my last official competition for the year. So that is my season closed and done for this year. Paris is fast approaching, and we are now under year to Paris, and that is now obviously the next and the biggest upcoming goal. I think for now, we are just going to slow it down just a little, to let our bodies rest and recover. 

I’m back at gym but we’ll start probably with quite a bit of a basic training, and then move on to a bit of upgrades to try and see what I can squeeze in, before we start competition season next year. Just to solidify what we’ve built on up until this point and get even more clean and polished and hopefully get to Paris very healthy, in good shape and hopefully achieving another personal best. 

Outside of this latest feat of qualifying for the Olympics, share some of your career highlights thus far.

I have quite a few of career highlights this far. It’s been a very exciting last couple of years for me. I’ve seen quite a lot of breakthroughs in my career and a lot of things that I’m very proud, namely: achieving an outright qualification again at this World Championships for my second consecutive Olympic Games. I’m now going to be a two-time Olympian, so that I think is really something to be proud of. I think I’m the first person to have ever done that, so that’s really one of my biggest ones. 

Another big one for me still remains my Commonwealth Games performance from last year. It was a really great experience for me and I managed to obviously come home with a bronze medal, which for me was the one of my biggest career highlights because it was in a field of very, very strong gymnasts. 

It was my first Commonwealth Games and I managed to really push through and come home with that bronze medal. And it’s something that I’m extremely proud of.

In Tokyo, you placed 61st, have you set a goal for Paris?

For every competition, my first goal is to go in healthy and fit, because if I achieve that, then your possibilities are endless. Besides that, it is definitely to try and improve from my finishing position in Tokyo. At the time I did have a personal best finish, but since then I’ve made really big strides and I’ve pushed my international totals and operator scores high and higher, so I’m hoping that in Paris we will not only better what we did in Tokyo, but also have another career personal best performance. 

You always speak about the importance of representation: How does it feel to be an inspiration to young black girls that are now starting to consider gymnastics as a sport of choice?

Representation is very important especially in a sport like gymnastics. For me I don’t think there was enough representation for us growing up. 

That’s one thing I know I am proud of with my teammates. We are a bunch of girls of colour and we are breaking the barriers of Gymnastics South Africa on the world stage. 

It’s really important for all the little girls and young gymnasts looking up to us to see that it is very possible that we have an entire World’s Team, as all girls that were people of colour and that as a little young person of colour, that little young girl, that your possibilities are endless and that it is indeed possible for us. 

What would you say to young ladies like you, that are struggling to find their magic, as you have? Perhaps they are not motivated or they just want to quit in life?

Find something that you believe is worth living for. My biggest passion growing up was gymnastics, and I found a very deep love for that and something that really did keep me going. 

I had set goals for myself every year, things that I wanted to achieve and even through the difficult patches and through the rough moments when things weren’t going as planned, I kept my eye on what my goal was and that was the thing that kept me motivated every morning and kept me getting. 

Find that little something that keeps you going, that gets you up every day, and keep working very hard at that and whatever that dream is inside of you, do not let it go, keep chasing it. God put it in your heart for a reason and I believe that I’m testament of that.


Main Photo Caption: Accomplished gymnast Caitlin Rooskrantz is relishing the opportunity of going to Paris for the 2024 Olympics, after hearing that she’s earned qualification on her filth back home. The talented 2022 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist says she’s aiming for another personal best result. Photo: Supplied

Photo 2 Caption: Friends, fans and Federation staff, there was a serious riot at OR Tambo International Airport on Johannesburg, when Caitlin and the team arrived back home. Photo: Supplied

Photo 3 Caption: That all-important Commonwealth Games … The anticipation … Photo: Supplied

Photo 4 Caption: .. And the just deserves, Caitlin’s most treasured achievement. Photo: Supplied

Photo 5 Caption: “Representation is very important,” says Caitlin. “That’s one thing I know I am proud of with my teammates. We are a bunch of girls of colour, and we are breaking the barriers of Gymnastics South Africa on the world stage!” Photo: Supplied

Photo 6 Caption: “Find something that you believe is worth living for. My biggest passion growing up was gymnastics, and I found a very deep love for that and something that really did keep me going,” is Caitlin’s advice to young girls. Photo: Supplied

Photo 7 Caption: What’s next, Caitlin? “The World Championships was my last official competition for the year. So that is my season closed and done for this year,” says the talented gymnast. “Paris is fast approaching, and we are now under year to Paris, and that is now obviously the next and the biggest upcoming goal. I think for now, we are just going to slow it down just a little, to let our bodies rest and recover.” Photo: Supplied

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