It was a historic day for Gymnastics South Africa at the Tokyo Olympics as Caitlin Rooskrantz and Naveen Daries became the first pair to represent South Africa at the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) competition.
The last time a single female gymnast represented South Africa in the Women’s Artist competition was in 2004 when Zandre Labuschagne represented the country at the Athens Olympics.
“We are incredibly proud of our two gymnasts,” says Donovan Jurgens, president of Gymnastics South Africa. “Not only one, but two very talented gymnasts represented us with class among the best of the best. We congratulate Caitlin and Naveen on their performances and look forward to welcoming them home soon. To reach the Olympics is every gymnast’s dream and to be able to assist them to get there, is every administrator’s desire. We hope their participation has sparked a flame that will see more young gymnastic talent step forward and realise their dreams. We now aim for the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and to build on the success of the Tokyo Olympics.”
Naveen Daries, who has a visual impairment, was first up on the hardest apparatus, the balance beam, followed by three strong performances on floor, vault and uneven bars. Most notably she ended the day in 18th position and 4th in the Commonwealth on vault.
Caitlin Rooskrantz put forward four strong routines following a recent ankle injury to finish as the best-placed gymnast in Africa and the best result of any SA WAG gymnast at the Olympics.
Caitlin continues to impress on the international stage, putting up an excellent uneven-bars score to place her among the best in the world and 3rd in the Commonwealth.
“I am bursting with pride,” says National WAG coach, Ilse Pelser. “Naveen had a rough start on beam but went clean on the next three apparatus. She showed such character and class by shaking off the nerves and recovering well. It is not easy starting on beam, but it’s even harder when you are first up on beam. I couldn’t be prouder of how Naveen fought back. What an example she is!”
“Caitlin had a clean competition, without falls and scored an international Personal Best today! Huge for her, considering it’s at the Olympics she achieved this. She just keeps getting better and better.”
Pelser said the pressure at an Olympic Games is on another level. “But these two ladies showed respectable performances. Both gymnasts had the experience of a lifetime. As a team, we are eternally grateful for this opportunity and inspired for the future, and we thank everyone not only for the support we received today, but also in the build-up to get here,” said Pelser.