After the recent South African artistic gymnastics championships, it is clear the London 2012 South African women’s Olympians will come from Ilse Laing’s Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre, following the club’s junior gymnasts taking up the first four places at the recent South African championships.
Makeda Phekani won gold a the champs held in Cape Town, followed by Claudia Cummins, Ashleigh Heldsinger and Elana Potgieter, while Candice Cronje, who returned to competitive gymnastics after an ankle injury, won silver in the senior section, behind the 2007 junior national champion, Jennifer Khwela from KwaZulu-Natal.
Butana Komphela, chairman of the parliamentary sports portfolio committee, must be smiling from ear to ear, as both the senior and junior champions "reflect the demographics of the South African society" for the first time in history.
Building on their excellent results achieved at the African championships trials last month, the girls were at the top of their game in Cape Town. "I am extremely happy with the performances of my gymnasts, and I believe Candice is on track to once again bring the African all-around title back to South Africa, next year," Laing says.
Kirsten Beckett, another member of the club, won bronze in the Olympic Entry level section. JGC also walked away with all the awards for coaches. Head coach Laing won the junior and senior Olympic Coach of the Year awards, Lynette Lindeque the level 5-7 award, while Anke Badenhorst and Leigh Tizick walked away with the level 8 Olympic Entry award.
Says Laing: "Our club is going from strength to strength. Our girls will be representing South Africa at various international competitions over the next two months as they prepare for their major goal, the African championships, which will be held in Egypt in January 2009."
The South African team for this event, of whom the majority trains with Laing at JGC, are looking to win both the junior and senior team titles. Other goals for the next two years include the Youth Olympics and the Commonwealth Games in 2010.