Going overseas and representing your country in a sport that you love can sound so glamorous, but behind the leotard sparkles and that 30-second routine on the world stage, is months of grit, sweat, and hours in the gym. And then throw in the world stage part again – a fun but unfamiliar environment.
The 2023 Trampoline World Age Group Competitions (World Age) in Birmingham last month saw a New Zealand team of 17 athletes compete across all four trampoline events – individual and synchro trampoline, double-mini, and tumbling. And team captains Sienna French and Nathan Monkton were beside each one of them to help ensure that fun dominated this unfamiliar environment.
Sienna’s and Nathan’s fifth and sixth World Age respectively, their wealth of knowledge and experience enabled them to mentor the younger athletes and newcomers and provide a key communication link within the full team including coaches, chaperones, and management.
“The support they gave the younger athletes on competition day, when nerves were at a high, was amazing” says head of delegation Annabel French.
“They were always there to calm and reassure the athletes—no question was too big or small. They led by example showing what was expected by being on the NZ team, and really helped to mould a fun and positive culture. And that was all on top of their own competitions and preparations – I’m super proud of them both.”
One of the first-time competitors was 14-year-old Anya Crocker from Olympia Gymnastic Sports who competed in individual and synchronized trampoline. She started doing trampoline 5 years ago because her sister did as she wasn’t enjoying artistic gymnastics anymore.
“I really like learning new skills, though some of them are really confusing, but if you work hard and don’t give up, you can perfect new skills. Doing that and overseas competitions is what I like best about trampoline” says Anya.
“I feel really proud to have represented NZ. It was extremely fun getting to know everyone and making some awesome memories with them.”
Fellow team member Lily Arnold, 16 years old from Gisborne Trampoline Club, agreed that it’s the people who make it fun.
“The thing I like best about doing my sports is the community and all the friends I’ve made. I also like being able to do all sorts of flips, and I like the fitness I’ve gained through it.”
Lily started trampoline and double-mini after having fun with backflips on her trampoline at home. That was seven years ago, and then took up tumbling 4 years ago.
“World Age was a very eye-opening experience for me, watching competitors from other countries and seeing how good people can be at such a young age” shares Lily.
“I’ve also learned that getting a medal is not the most important thing – doing your best is. If that means not getting a medal then don’t be sad, but set goals for yourself to work towards and achieve. Hard work pays off. You need to be persistent with your training if you want to get the results you’re looking for.”