Day 169 18 June – prize givings galore

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As our annual rhythmic gymnastics competition comes to an end, I can’t express what an eventful day it has been. The support from our rhythmic gymnastics community was incredible and the event ran as per schedule.

It was an experience I wouldn’t want to take on board again any time soon!

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Day 142 22 May – life lessons

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My daughter competed in her first competition as a Junior International athlete. I can’t even begin to explain how nerve wrecking the preparations has been for her. She is surrounded by an immensely talented group of girls this year. They are all determined, focused, flexible and ruthless on the rhythmic floor. She usually gets very flustered and nervous during warm-up but once her first apparatus is done, she manages to calm herself. Now, I need to emphasise that the last time she competed was at Nationals last year and she ended with a disastrous ball routine. I can only imagine the mental battle she had to go through to walk out and perform this weekend. But unfortunately her ball routine was a bit of a train wreck as she lost her ball off the floor, twice. Her score came down to a high 5 and is her lowest score yet while in the pre/international stream. Obviously she was disappointed and very upset with herself. But what made the situation worse was that her coach, the person she relies on in motivating her, ignored her when she walked off the floor. She didn’t give any feedback and told her to get changed for the next routine. My daughter was certainly not the only one who made mistakes during the competition but she was left feeling like a huge failure. When my daughter returned from the change rooms, she joined her team mate and started practicing her next routine. It was here when her coach looked at her and told her that she most likely holds the record for the lowest ever score by a gymnast from their club. This is what broke my daughter’s spirit.

Today’s photo is a quote suited best for the scenario my daughter found herself in. This is relevant to all people in leadership and facilitating positions. Be aware of the ears listening when you speak.

Day 133 13 May – fettuccine

Tonight we have one of my daughter’s oldest and dearest friends over. They met as eager 6 year olds wanting to learn more of a sport they both grew to love, rhythmic gymnastics. They both joined the same club, started out in the recreational group, and moved their way up. We moved away from our small town and gymnastics club at the end of December 2012, where we joined our current club in Auckland. Her friend, who still stays in the same town, made the move to join our club (1 1/2 hours drive away) almost 2 years ago. This is why I encourage sport with both my children. Great memories are created with amazing and often life long friends. You learn to get along during difficult and hard times. You celebrate each other’s successes and provide a shoulder to cry on when injuries hinder your performance.

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My daughter is a keen cook and currently has food technology presented as a subject. Tonight, with the help of her gym buddy, they created this lovely dish! A little bit of everything else, mixed up and served with love.

Mamma mia.

Day 77 18 March – fundraising

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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.

Day 48 17 February – train ride

My husband got 4 corporate tickets to watch the T20 cricket match between South Africa and New Zealand. Seeing as this year is all about making memories by taking on new experiences I thought “Why not”. Our public transport is free with an accompanying sport event ticket, so we decided to take the train to Eden Park instead of having the same traffic congestion as we did for the lantern festival. You could spot my excitement a mile away, as I have never been on a train before. My husband takes the train into work everyday so he knows the schedule, timing and destination of the trains, but I was still hesitant about getting there. We boarded the train, and the train manager blew the whistle (I thought that was super cute as it was an old fashioned whistle and the sound immediately made me think of travelling during the early 1900’s). The doors closed and very silently the train departed. It wasn’t as smooth of a ride I thought it would be, with some little bumps and unevenness as the train automatically follows the tracks from the one stop to the other. We had 16 stops before reaching Kingsland (Eden Park). It took approximately an hour to get there, but knowing how much it would have cost us in fuel if we took the car it was well worth it.

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At the venue we had a short 2 minute walk before entering the gates of the cricket stadium. The game had already started when we walked through the gates looking for the corporate section, when the crowd erupted with celebratory cheers. The atmosphere was electrifying. We took our seats, which was in a covered section and I sat amazed at the size of the venue. The bright lights shining unto the field and the players, how small they suddenly look. We usually watch cricket on television and are use to having the commentators talking you through what is happening but watching it live you basically absorb the energy of your neighbouring supporters and cheer when your team is doing well. We were in the minority supporting South Africa, but honestly, the best team will win on the night and that is absolutely okay with me. I am not a die heart fan of any sport in particular and enjoy watching it for the entertainment value.

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Our kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves too. They were exited for the sake of excitement. My daughter was anxiously waiting for a Mexican wave to start. And when one did, at the opposite end of the stadium she was cheering it on to come all the way around to us. It did! She was almost hanging of the edge of her seat as it approached our section, and exuberantly threw her arms in the air as it came past. I love how much pleasure she gets out of the small things in life.

When the game was over (South Africa won by 79 runs), we made our way back with the rest of the 1000’s to the train station. Our trip back home took 2 hours as we had to wait over an hour to board the train. The trains were packed to the brim with an assortment of people, but what I appreciated the most was that everyone was in good spirits. No sore losers, no fights, arguments or negativity. Just people making their way home after an eventful night.

Sportsmanship at its best!