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Youngsters to fly SA flag in Portugal

The trio will compete in the ages 12 to 18 women’s group along with Ilè Viljoen, Maya Tager and Summer Thwaits. Bailey Courtney, Rachel Walker and Anche Davidson will compete in the ages 13 to 19 women’s group.

Qualifying for the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) Acrobatics Gymnastics World Age Group Competition in Portugal in September is an honour and privilege for Benoni gymnasts Amber Folkus, Kaelin Campbell and Isabella Rathbone.

The trio forms the backbone of coaches Isabella Carr and Armand Koekemoer’s six-woman team selected to represent SA in the women’s 12 to 18 age group at the 13th edition of the competition.

They made the cut after several consistent and impressive performances at the world championships trials held in September and last month and the Gym Games last October.

Kaelin Campbell, Amber Folkus and Isabella Rathbone have trained together since January.

“We train every day for three to four hours. It’s a dream come true to represent SA in Portugal. It has helped me realise I can do anything I set my mind to,” said 12-year-old Amber.

She added, “I have always had a passion for gymnastics and would watch gymnastics movies when I was younger. I started in 2021 when I was nine. Anything is possible if you are disciplined, committed and work hard.”

The girls have worked together since January and have already achieved more than what they had envisaged, said Amber.

The girls hope to make SA and their families proud in Portugal.

Their journey has been nothing short of inspirational, and their perseverance, dedication, and countless hours of training have paid off, explained Kaelin.

“We qualified at the world trials on May 24. It was long and hard weeks of training leading up to the trials mixed with joy, sweat and tears. It will forever be worth it,” said the 16-year-old Ashton International College learner.

She was a dancer before switching in 2017 after wandering off into a gymnastics training hall next to her dance studio and has never looked back ever since.

They will perform trio routines.

“It’s our dream to go to the worlds. It’s a great achievement and an honour to represent SA. I’m grateful for my two wonderful partners and feel privileged to go to the worlds with them. I want us to go there and do our best to make our families and country proud,” she said.

Benoni High’s Isabella (16) first took to the mat in 2016 because of her passion for dancing and tumbling. She believed acrobatic gymnastics would be the right fit for her.

Despite a foot injury laying her off for 2022, she never lost her step. She said years of hard work and determination culminated in their qualification.

The girls are part of the two trio teams in the SA squad.

“My trio was put together in January, and we have trained every day to achieve our goal of making it to the worlds,” she said.

“The few weeks before our trials were hard and tested our ability and how we worked together as a trio. Qualifying for the competition is an honour and privilege. We hope to prove ourselves even more in Portugal.”

The competition is self-funded, and the girls need your help to travel to Portugal. To help them, make your contribution at www.backabuddy.co.za/campaign/help-us-get-to-13th-fig-acrobatics-gymnastics-world-age-group-competition

Also Read: Gymnastics club attend international event

Also Read: Young gymnast’s future looks bright


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