Merimbula gymnasts make state selection

Pippi Keogh,11 of Pambula Beach and Samantha Tondering 15, of Merimbula are excited about competing in the National Championships
Pippi Keogh,11 of Pambula Beach and Samantha Tondering 15, of Merimbula are excited about competing in the National Championships

Two locals girls, Pippi Keogh, 11 of Pambula Beach and Samantha Tondering, 15 of Merimbula have been selected to join the NSW State Gymnastics Team to compete in the National Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne next week.

The girls will perform two routines in the Womens’ Pairs in the Acrobatics Division of the National Championships.  Both routines involve extraordinary displays of balance, strength, agility and coordination incorporating gymnastic and dance elements.

Their coaches Ben Moroney and Natasha Scionzifienza of the Eden Area Gymnastics Centre in Pambula will be at the National Championships supporting the girls and helping with last minute preparations. “Both girls are extremely dedicated and not afraid of hard work” said Ben. “It is a credit to them that they are the only rural gymnasts to be selected in the team”, he said. All other state tem members are from Sydney or the greater Sydney area. 

Gymnastics is a sport renowned for gruelling training regimes and extreme physical and mental control. For the local girls to have made to a national competition is a remarkable achievement.

The National Championships are being held at the Hisense Arena is the sporting centre of Melbourne. It is a huge state of the art stadium and the event is expected to attract large audiences. The girls will spend a week with their team, competing and supporting their fellow state team mates. “I am really looking forward to getting to Melbourne and being a part of such a major event” said Sam.

The girls have been training for three hours at a time, four to five times a week to prepare for the National Titles.  They have also travelled regularly to Sydney and Wollongong to compete and train. It goes without saying that they have needed to be extremely disciplined and organised to fit the training into their lives.

Doing well with schoolwork as well as training, coaching other junior gymnasts, and helping out at home with her younger siblings is all in a day’s work for Samantha! “It’s a fine balancing act to fit it all in, but its worth it”, Samantha, a Year 10 student at Lumen Cristi, explained.

Pippi, a Yr 6 student at Pambula Public School is also school captain and a keen dancer. “I plan out the things I have to do at the beginning of every week and get my homework done in the morning before everyone gets up” said Pippi. 

Ben has spent a lifetime coaching gymnasts at the elite level in Sydney and since moving to the area several years ago he has turned his skills to working with local gymnasts. Natasha has recently returned from a three month coaching scholarship in Denmark and has lots of cutting edge knowledge to assist Pippi and Sam. 


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