Southland Gymnastics recently announced its team for 2022, and includes two Southern Institute of Technology students who are hoping to excel at the national competition in less than a month, at ILT Stadium, Invercargill.
Bailey Keepin, first-year Bachelor of Architecture student, and Lewis Thomson, third-year Bachelor of Commerce student, will both be competing in the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics, containing six events: Floor, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars and High or Horizontal Bar.
Mr Keepin, who has lived in Invercargill since childhood, started with Southland Gymnastics around the age of seven. “I went straight into level-one competition, just thebasic stuff like forward rolls...” and from there, he has continued in the sport.
Previously attending national competitions in 2018 and 2021, Mr Keepin won a bronze medal on the floor last year, and in 2018, placed fourth equal on the high bar. Goals for this year’s event include aiming for the gold medal in the floor event, and he would also like to place in the rings.
“I won gold at the Christchurch competition recently (beginning of May), I would like to repeat that and place in the floor again... the Christchurch comp is a similar size to the nationals – it definitely gives you confidence,” he said.
Currently training around fourteen hours a week, he said “That’s been a consistent level of training for the last three to four years”. Now under a month until nationals, “It’s not so much an increase in (training) hours, but during training we really knuckle down on those finer details and honing our skills, and getting as tidy and as clean as possible.”
He admitted with this being his first year out of high school (where there was less home work), now being a tertiary student it was more of a juggle with study and training commitments. “It’s very different to last year... with all the extra work at this level, there’s been a few missed training sessions, it’s more of a squeeze,” he said.
Mr Keepin is looking forward to competing in the main event of the year. “It’s definitely cool to represent Southland at the national competition,” he said.
Invercargill born-and-bred Mr Thomson has been involved in gymnastics for at least ten years. “My best (event) is floor”, in the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics, and added managing the training and study had so far been “not too bad”.
Studying two distance papers and two on-campus papers this semester, he had found it helpful to have more flexible study. “It’s made it easier to meet my training commitments.
Fifteen hours per week is kind of the baseline, and anything more if I can,” he said. Mr Thomson’s training consisted of “routines, routines and more routines”, and he was feeling relaxed about the nationals. He focussed on maintaining good energy, supporting each other and keeping the vibes positive.
“At this point in the game, you should have done all the work – there’s no need to push much harder, it’s about consolidating all the things you already know.”
“It’s usually a very enjoyable event. Men’s gymnastics in NZ isn’t very big, we’re all friends, we’ll catch up with them and have a fun competition.”
Mr Thomson said he wasn’t too worried about where he placed in the events. “Personally I want to compete on perfecting my skills – if I’m happy with my performance, then I’m happy.”
Support our local athletes at the NZ Gymnastic Championships, held at ILT Stadium in Invercargill, 13 -16 July.