Gymnasts happy with AAG experience

21 Sep 2015 16:10pm
KINTELE, 21 SEP (NAMPA) - Namibian gymnasts are happy with the experience gained at the All Africa Games (AAG) that was hosted in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo from 04 to 19 September 2015.
Gymnasts Katja Serrer and Annelise Koster plus their team manager Valereis Geldenhuys and coach Petra Thorburn formed part of the 79 athletes who represented Team Namibia at the 11th AAG.
Namibia did not win any medals in gymnastics, but the athletes and their management expressed satisfaction with the event, saying it formed part of their preparation for the World Gymnastics Championships set for Glasgow, Scotland from 23 October to 01 November 2015.
“It was really difficult for athletes to participate in the competition as most of the equipment and training schedules were not ready when we arrived. Even the people who were assigned to help us knew nothing about gymnastics.
“We, the coaches and managers from the participating countries, had to set up most of the equipment ourselves and we found out they ordered the wrong rhythmic gymnastics floor. We spent a lot of time preparing for our dance, but we did not even perform it,” Geldenhuys told Nampa.
She noted that the competition was allowed to continue after the participating countries decided to continue with the tournament despite them not having all the equipment.
“We learned a lot from this tournament and hopefully we will use this experience to our advantage in the next events we participate in or organise,” said the manager.
Namibia is preparing to host an international youth gymnastics tournament in Swakopmund next year, and Geldenhuys said being in Congo for the AAG taught them how important it is to be well prepared before hosting any major event.
“In southern Africa we lack youth tournaments in gymnastics and if we manage to host this tournament it will be our first, and this can help prepare our athletes for future events. We will then have the equipment that will be used at the championship at our disposal. We just have to find ways of purchasing it for the tournament.
“You know a rhythmic floor cost about N.dollars 1 million, and that is funds we currently don't have, but if we get assistance we will be able to pull it off,” she stated.
On Namibia's overall performance, Thorburn said slight injuries also contributed to athletes not giving their best.
“Our participation here will be used as preparation for the world champs in October. At these championships athletes will be competing to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and we will use the experience gained throughout the year to prepare for Glasgow,” she said.
Serrer and Koster qualified for the finals of the AAG uneven bars and balance beams.
In the finals, Koster ended sixth, while Serrer ended seventh out of eight participants.
In the balance beam, South African Kirsten Beckett won gold, Angela Maguire from Algeria won silver and another Algerian Farah Boufadene got bronze.
In aerobics, Siham Mansouri from Algeria won gold, Dominique Mann from South Africa walked away with silver and Algeria’s Said Saoud Cheyma won bronze.
In the mixed events, duo Siham Mansouri and Sofiane Sahraoui from Algeria walked away with the gold medal, while South African duo Dominique Mann and Mafona Tlakiso got silver and Congo's Mercia Ntsia and Delmas Moungondou bronze.
The two gymnasts told this agency that participating at the AAG for the first time was a learning experience they will not forget. They are now turning their attention to the World championships, where they hope to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Meanwhile, Namibia won 15 medals at the AAG - five gold, four silver and six bronze.