Otago bounding ahead when it comes to NZ selection

Dunedin gymnasts (from left) Alyssa Shelton (17), Alex Livingstone (15) and Bridie Shelton (15)...
Dunedin gymnasts (from left) Alyssa Shelton (17), Alex Livingstone (15) and Bridie Shelton (15) demonstrate the skills which have earned them selection in New Zealand teams. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dunedin Gymnastic Academy head coach Carmel Leslie reckons the region is "punching" above its weight.

A better analogy might be leaping ahead.

Three gymnasts and two coaches from the Dunedin Gymnastic Academy have been selected to represent New Zealand at tournaments overseas early next year.

The Shelton sisters Alyssa (17) and Bridie (15) have been picked in the New Zealand step 8-10 team for the Aloha GymFest Hawaii Tour in January.

They impressed at the Gymnastic New Zealand nationals in Auckland earlier this month.

Alyssa claimed silver in the overall step 10 competition and also did really well in the individual apparatus finals. She won silver in the beam - her favourite discipline - and bar, and bronze in the floor and vault.

The year-13 Otago Girls' High School pupil was thrilled with her results.

"I was a little disappointed on day one because I did not do as well as I would have liked on the beam. But day two was really good."

She has represented New Zealand previously but the chance to go to Hawaii and compete in the United States was an exciting opportunity.

Bridie, a step 9 gymnast, also had a strong tournament. She missed out on medals but her overall placing of seventh was a good result for her.

Fellow Dunedin Gymnastic Academy member Abby Stevens placed fourth overall.

Leslie has been named as the New Zealand coach for the tournament in Hawaii.

"You have to be quite an athlete to make it to this level and to be selected you have to be up in the top echelon," Leslie said.

Leslie will lead a squad of 18 athletes.

"It is a huge honour. And for Dunedin, we are punching above our weight.

"I'll give you an example. When the Christchurch coach came down, he walked into our gym and said is this the training gym?

"That gives you an idea of what we are up against. We just don't have what other big regions have."

The other athlete selected to represent New Zealand is 15-year-old level seven gymnast Alex Livingstone. The Bayfield High School year-11 pupil will get to go to Texas along with his coach ,Andrew Forrest, to compete at the Valeri Liukin Tour.

Forrest is an upandcoming coach and has been named as the assistant New Zealand coach for the tournament.

Livingstone forced his way into the New Zealand team with some impressive results at the nationals. He was second overall and claimed silver in the floor and bronze in rings and parallel bars.

"Nationals probably could not have gone any better. I was super pleased," he said.

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