Rising Nelson gymnast Sam Fu-Allen has turned a dream into a reality after being selected to represent New Zealand in an international tournament in Texas at the end of the year.
The talented 16 year old Nelson College student will join 13 other Kiwis, aged 15 to 25 at the Valeri Liukin Invitational event near Dallas, Texas, from December 11-13. Sam will be one of three New Zealand gymnasts competing at U18 International level.
Sam says he is “completely overjoyed” at being selected. “It’s always been a dream of mine to make it to an international competition since I was a little kid, and now it’s finally become a reality,” he says. “Not only that, but I’ve achieved it earlier than I expected to.”
The selection is a well deserved honour for Sam, who’s had notable success in the past year. At the New Zealand National GymSports Championship in Auckland last October, he won golds in floor, pommel horse and parallel bars in the level 8 men’s competition. Then the big news came that he had won the Mark Jujnovich Cup – one of the major awards of the championships, which is given to the gymnast with the highest individual apparatus score across all senior grades. He won it for his floor routine, with a huge score of 15.433.
Earlier this year, Sam received the letter from GymSports New Zealand inviting him into the New Zealand U18 squad. He has competed at this level now in three competitions, with the last of these being the trial for the Valeri Liukin.
Sam started gymnastics when he was seven years old, and it has been his passion ever since. “There’s honestly no other sport like it,” he says. “Some of the moves I do and aspire towards just don’t seem physically possible, and the huge joy of finally perfecting a single move after often several months of training is just incredible.”
With the competition looming, Sam is training a bit more than he usually does, clocking up about 19.5 hours a week. He trains with coach Shane Collins, who is an ex NZ U18 himself. Although Sam has ways to cope with his nerves, he credits Shane for keeping him steady. “He just acts as a solid base to keep my motivation and mental strength up,” says Sam.
Injuries are always certain in high level gymnastics, according to Sam. “I’ve had a ridiculous number of injuries doing gymnastics, you’ve just got to ask any one of my friends and they’ll give you a huge list,” he says.
Future goals for the budding star? “Representing New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games would be amazing,” he says. “However, I still have a lot of work ahead of me.”