IN a first for a Port Alfred artistic (Bars, Beam, Floor and Vault) gymnast, 14-year-old Kayla Stiekema has been selected to represent the South African Gymnastics Federation (SAGF) in a Region 5 competition in Zimbabwe.
Her mother and one-time coach Carol-Ann Stiekema of Sunshine Coast Gymnastics (SCG) explained that Region 5 used to be called Zone 6.
“This is a development competition, so gymnasts represent the SAGF in federation, not Protea colours. They have to wear the SA badge and are the SA team for the competition but it is important not to confuse this achievement with that of being on the national team,” Carol-Ann said.
“Nevertheless this achievement is a first for a Port Alfred artistic gymnast. We were so excited when Kayla’s teammate from SCG, Taylor du Plessis first made this team a few years ago for trampoline, and then three times thereafter, bringing medals back too!” she said.
“It is absolutely wonderful that Kayla has done the same but for the most challenging of disciplines. This was one of Kayla’s goals and she has had to work very hard to attain it.”
Only three gymnasts in South Africa were selected for the Senior women’s artistic gymnastics team and four for the Juniors. Pre-Juniors will be selected at SA Games.
“Apparently the last EC artistic gymnast to be selected was more than 10 years ago,” Carol-Ann said.
Kayla’s coach in in Port Elizabeth, Debbie Gordon of Anderson’s Gym, said: “Congrats Kayla on making the Region 5 team. Your hard work, dedication, perseverance and passion have paid off.”
The competition will be held in December. Kayla coaches aerial silk classes to raise funds for travelling costs and will be doing some fundraisers for which she is looking for prizes from anyone who would like to assist her in traveling to participate in this prestigious competition.
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” said Kayla. “It has been something I have wanted to do since I was very young. I am grateful to God and all who helped me. I am very happy that my hard work is paying off because sometimes it feels like I have planted a seed and I am watering it, and nothing seems to be happening, s if it’s just a waste of water. But now I can see something, so that’s very encouraging.”