Monday, 14 July 2014

Glasgow Bound- The Blackflips (NZ Women's Gymnastics)

Five young ladies from the Christchurch School of Gymnastics left for Glasgow yesterday, en route to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, undoubtedly the biggest event of their lives so far. The New Zealand Women have not won a Commonwealth medal in gymnastics since the 1994 Commonwealth Games (that was Sarah Thompson on bars), but this year's crop of gymnasts have the talent to claim spots on the podium- especially in event finals. All five girls have competed internationally, including Gymnix in Montreal and the Pacific Rim Champs, in preparation for the games.

This is the strongest Women's team that has ever been sent to the Commonwealth Games, which reflects how far NZ Gymnastics has come in the past few years. Our International Development Program (IDP) adopted from Australia has helped to select and develop elite athletes, but there are also some high level gymnasts coming in from the STEP program (Kenzie and Anna for example). Many of the skills that these girls are competing have never been done in New Zealand before, which is pretty exciting for our gymnastics community!

The Blackflips from left: Kenzie Slee, Courtney McGregor, Charlotte Sullivan, Brittany Robertson and Anna Tempero (photo credit-

I had the chance to see all girls compete at the Christchurch School of Gymnastics Classic held last weekend, where I was very impressed with the level of difficulty presented. They are very close as a team, especially now that all gymnasts train together at CSG (Kenzie made the move from the Hutt Valley, Brittany from Auckland and Anna from Blenheim), under coaches Svetlana Sazonova and Jozsef Ferencz. I'll give a quick overview of each gymnast and how they can help the team in Glasgow

Courtney McGregor
From: Christchurch
Club: CSG
Age: 15
Strengths: Vaulting, Floor, All-around
Routines at CSG Classic: Beam Floor

Earlier this year, Courtney made history by being the first New Zealander to qualify to a World Cup Final in Doha. She then went on to win a silver medal in the Pacific Rim Championships with her DTY and a tucked Podkopayeva. These vaults are looking strong and she will contend for a medal in Glasgow. She is also looking great on beam, with a front tuck mount and a double tuck dismount. Hopefully she will make floor finals as well, where she has really improved her difficulty. I would expect to see her competing on all events during the team final, and hopefully the all-around final. If she has a clean competition, she should place well.

Courtney's 4th place finish in the Vault finals at Doha, 2014

Charlotte Sullivan
From: Christchurch
Club: CSG
Age: 15
Strengths: Bars, Beam, Floor, All-around
Routines at CGS Classic: Beam

Charlotte is another strong all-arounder and is especially good on bars (where the team is weak) and on beam. She also made floor finals at Pacfic Rims this year (along with Courtney). She is very elegant and consistent and has good difficulty. Like Courtney, she will probably compete all events for NZ in the team final. Her vault is a FTY, and hopefully we will see her in the all-around final!

Anna Tempero
From: Blenheim
Clubs: Blenheim Gymnastics, then CSG
Age: 19
Strengths: Beam, Floor, Consistency
Routines at CSG Classic: Floor Beam

Anna is the eldest member of the team and only recently became an elite gymnast, having come out of the STEPs program. She is a very powerful gymnast and has many cool tricks up her sleeve (including a standing arabian on beam!). She can definitely help the team out on beam and floor in particular.

Kenzie Slee
From: Upper Hutt, Wellington
Age: 16
Clubs: Rimutaka Gymsports, Hutt Valley Gymsports, now CSG
Strengths: Floor, Vaulting, Beam
Routines at CSG: Floor

Kenzie is a clean and powerful gymnast, and learns new skills very quickly. Perhaps the most inexperienced of the group, but can come up with the goods when it counts. At CSG's she unveiled a full-twisting tsuk to go with her FTY, so perhaps she can make vault finals with that. She also could help out the team with clean beam and floor routines.

Brittany Robertson
From: Auckland
Age: 17
Clubs: North Harbour Gymnastics, WOGA and CSG
Strengths: Beam, Floor and Execution
Routines at CSG: Beam Floor

Brittany is the most experienced member of the team and has competed internationally as a junior elite. She also has spent some time training overseas at WOGA. She is a very artistic and elegant gymnast and excels particularly on beam and floor. I am not sure of her bar, since I haven't seen it in a while, but hopefully she will be able to compete this for the team.

The girls with their coaches, Svetlana and Jozsef (

I'll do a quick break down of their DV's on each apparatus:
VT: 5.8 (Courtney), 5.0 (Kenzie and Brittany), 4.7 (Charlotte), 4.2 (Anna)
UB: 4.7 (Charlotte), 4.5 (Courtney), 3.0 (Anna)
BB: 5.7 (Anna and Courtney), 5.6 (Kenzie), 5.5 (Charlotte), 5.2 (Brittany)
FX: 5.7 (Courtney), 5.4 (Kenzie and Charlotte), 5.3 (Brittany), 5.0 (Anna)

They will struggle on bars with those low DV's, but should do well elsewhere... Best of luck girls, and do us proud!

See you on tele- go hard! (CSG Facebook page)

In the media:

Breaking the medal drought in gymnastics -History of NZ Gymnasts at the Commonwealth Games
Article about the entire gymnastics team to Glasgow
Anna Tempero in the Marlborough Press
Brittany in 2012

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow on Twitter @IFlip4GymBlog)
Videos by Olivia Browne