South African Women’s Artistic Gymnast, Ashleigh Heldsinger, is soon to compete at the London Olympics Test Event, called the Visa International Gymnastics, which is part of the London Olympics Prepares Series. This event is the final opportunity for gymnasts in Artistic, Rhythmic and Trampoline to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Test Event will be held from the 10 – 18 January 2012 at the North Greenwich Arena in London.
17 year-old Ashleigh, who hails from Roodepoort, Gauteng, is the only SA Olympic hopeful, with no other current gymnasts (some through injury) able to potentially qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Only 324 gymnasts world-wide will have the opportunity to represent ‘Gymnastics’ at the Olympic Games, i.e. 196 in Artistic, 96 in Rhythmic and 32 in Trampoline. Upon completion of the Test Event, Ashleigh is hoping to achieve FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) qualifying criteria to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Elite gymnastics in South Africa is still in a developmental phase, with strong international competition to contend with.
Also, not all gymnasts are able to make it to the highest level in gymnastics; therefore, qualification for an Olympic Games in itself would be an immense achievement by a South African gymnast.
Coached by Ilse Laing at Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre and with 12 years of gymnastics training under her belt, Ashleigh is on the brink of realising her ultimate dream of competing at an Olympic Games.
Other highlights in Ashleigh’s gymnastics career thus far have been competing at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, where she finished 10th Overall and attained 6th position on Floor.
The Women’s Artistic Gymnastics qualifications for the Test Event will commence on Wednesday, 11 January.
In addition, further South African representation at the Test Event, from an official point of view, will be Rhythmic Gymnastics Judge, Elsie Annette Nel, who has been selected as a Reference Judge.