Nelson gymnasts Hannah Robertson, left, and Sienna Rajek jump up on the uneven bars with their medals after the Top of the South gymnastics competition. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Nelson gymnasts strive for Nationals


Rather than hosting international netball players and the Nelson Giants, the Trafalgar Centre was filled with a whopping 520 gymnasts for the Top of the South Gymnastics Competition.

The weekend-long competition saw the centre kitted out with uneven bars, beams, a spring floor, vault, rings and pommels as gymnasts from 22 clubs across New Zealand competed to get a step closer to qualifying for Nationals, which will be held in Nelson in October.

Among the sea of gymnasts were 12 and 13-year-old Step Five women’s artistic gymnasts Hannah Robertson and Sienna Rajek.

The Top of the South Competition was their largest meet yet but, despite nerves from competing against so many other gymnasts, the pair’s medal haul suggests they are well on track to qualifying for Nationals.

Hannah took home two silver medals, coming second in the Step Five beam and overall team and placing ninth in the individual overall.

Sienna won a trio of medals, coming first in the Step Five floor and vault, second in the Step Five overall team and placing sixth individually.

“I wanted to get 50 points and I got 53 plus the two golds and silver. I was hoping to do well but all the other gymnasts were really good, so I was really surprised and really happy.”

Both Hannah and Sienna have hit the national qualifying mark but only the top four in the region will progress through to Nationals in October.

“I really want to make the team, especially after this weekend, it’s really made me want it,” says Hannah.

Overall, the 60 Gymnastics Nelson athletes showed that smaller clubs can compete with the likes of Olympia, Christchurch School of Gymnastics, and Capital Gym Sports.

Standouts include Alex Pearson who placed first in the Men’s Level 1 section, winning all but two of his events, the parallel bars and the horizontal bar.

Quinn Birrs took out the Men Level 7 apparatus against two Olympia gymnasts in a highly-contested category, winning vault and rings.

The Women Step 2 Over was won by Elise Smith who took out the vault and uneven bars.
Meanwhile, Hana Williams won the Gold level, also claiming first place in the vault and uneven bars, followed closely by teammate Sasha Challenger who won the floor.