This year marked a special anniversary, with Tina Colijn from Canterbury marking 50 years’ service to the Woman’s Artistic Gymnastics community.
We chatted with Tina about this milestone and this is what she had to share…
How were you first introduced to gymnastics?
I was first introduced to gymnastics as a young eight-year-old girl. I competed in interclub recreation competitions and interclub apparatus competitions in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I did gymnastics until I was 26 years old. I just loved it.
Very few people stick with anything for long periods, but you have judged for 50 years! Why so long?
I had to choose what I was going to be when I left school and my coach suggested coaching. So I went to a course every Sunday for nine months to become a coach. Then while I was doing my course I was asked to judge. I have always been involved in gymnastics and it was never for anyone other than myself. You have to love what you do and I felt at home in the gym.
What is one of your highlights as a judge?
I have a lot of highlights but a couple that pop into my mind are when I helped to organise a very large competition in Rotterdam. When you see at the start of every new season all the little gymnast’s nervous faces and then they show you what they have been working very hard on for the last six to seven months – that is very rewarding. And my most favourite highlight was the presentation to me at Timaru a few weeks ago. Having Eva (granddaughter) perform her floor routine just for me and the presentation itself was very emotional.
Are you involved in any other sports?
Not really, I played tennis but gymnastics has always been my passion. I enjoy walking and my garden – that’s all I have time for.
How has judging and gymnastic competitions changed in the last 50 years?
IT’S HUGE!!! There are so many things that have changed, like the kids in the gym now are all doing what was performed by Nadia Comaneci at the Olympics. Canterbury have a wonderful network now where they all work together helping each other out, all for the good of gymnastics and the athletes. It’s more honest in the judging / coaching community – they want to help each other.
From your years of experience as a judge, what is the one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out as a judge?
Hang in there! Ask questions of the more experienced judges as they will help you. There is a great camaraderie amongst the judges and it’s a wonderful environment to meet new people and see beautiful places. Watching gymnasts’ achievements is a huge payment and seeing the development of the sport. Most judges are ex-gymnasts or coaches and they have a passion and a love for the sport.
Gymnastics will never be far away from Tina her as daughter Ester is a brevet judge and granddaughter Eva is a competitive STEP 6 gymnast, who will be representing Canterbury at this year’s NZ Championships.
A special presentation was made to Tina at the 2016 South Island Championships held in Timaru recently to mark the ultimate achievement of 50 years’ service to the WAG community and finally her retirement from judging. The occasion was marked with a special floor performance from her granddaughter Eva, then a presentation of a specially made sash, flowers and champagne as a thank you and acknowledgement for all her work.
We join the New Zealand gymnastics community in thanking Tina hugely for all of her time, efforts, passion and contributions to our sport.