My son and I attended a fundraising event for our club’s current junior international MAG (mens artistic gymnastics) gymnast. He is in the 360 squad, a group of young and very talented gymnasts who aim to qualify for future Olympic selections. He is travelling to Berlin for an International competition and afterwards spending time in the UK for a training camp. This is an incredible opportunity for any athlete and with an excessive cost involved, any amount of money raised is very welcomed. The night consisted of light entertainment in the form of parents vs gymnasts, MAG and WAG displays, raffle auctions and a 2 course meal.
Our son is a level 3 gymnast and has been doing gymnastics since the age of 5. He isn’t the best and some apparatus are challenging for a small body with little upper body strength but he absolutely loves it. He struggles to stay focused during training and is easily distracted by others around him but I don’t think I should expect more from a 10 year old. He has been in the same team since 2014 and they are a strong team to compete against. Their ages vary from 8 – 13 and last year was their most successful year yet.
Watching him compete certainly takes me back to my gymnastics years. I was an artistic gymnast from the age of 9 and stopped when I was 17. Our gymnastics club didn’t have many boy gymnasts and it was only on limited occasions that we trained with them which means the majority of our training sessions were girls only. We formed some very strong bonds and I don’t recall ever being in arguments or disagreements with any of the girls. We supported each other, cheered during competitions, hugged, cried and bandaged each other when our blisters tore. We were a close knit group and shared a special connection that other students in the school didn’t understand. I remember clearly how we got together one night during a school dance, ran to the rugby field, formed a circle, held hands and wished each other good luck for the upcoming Vaal Triangle Championships, which was the qualifying decider for team selection for the South African Junior Gymnastics Championships.
Now I know boys are wired differently to girls, but I would hope that my son has the same opportunity to form inseparable bonds with his team mates. Those are the relationships that help you grow, mature and shapes how you interact with others in stressful situations, especially when they are competing in an individual sport and there’s only 3 podium spots to fill.
Here’s to good memories, and memories in the making.