Gymnastics In The Islands

The move to finalise the Oceania Gymnastics Union is now underway. This weekend a high powered meeting is taking place at the Tanoa International Hotel, Nadi. The Fiji Sun’s  LEONE
11 Sep 2016 17:49
Gymnastics In The Islands
Simone Biles of USA at the Rio Olympics. Photo: Zimbio.

The move to finalise the Oceania Gymnastics Union is now underway. This weekend a high powered meeting is taking place at the Tanoa International Hotel, Nadi. The Fiji Sun’s  LEONE CABENATABUA spoke to Caitlin Lyons, Gymnastics Development Coordinator, Gymnastics Australia/ Gymnastics Federation of Fiji.

SUN: From this weekend’s meeting, you are looking at the formation of the Oceania Gymnastics Union. What is going to be the role of this Union?

LYON: The Oceania Gymnastics Union (OGU) is the official governing body for gymnastics in the Oceania region. It will constitute the fifth and final Continental Union for the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). The role of OGU is to represent and unite the National Gymnastics Federations of the region. With support from FIG, Gymnastics Australia and Gymsports New Zealand are working collaboratively to develop gymnastics and assist to establish National Gymnastics Federations, initially in Fiji, American Samoa and Cook Islands.

Federations will be formed in Guam, Tonga and Papua New Guinea later in 2016, with plans to develop gymnastics in more Oceania countries in the future.

SUN: Who are going to be your target groups when it comes to introducing gymnastics in the islands?

LYON: Gymnastics is a safe, fun and developmental activity that is accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Within gymnastics there are multiple disciplines– the Olympic Disciplines of Men’s Artistic, Women’s Artistic, Rhythmic and Trampoline Gymnastics, but also Acrobatic Gymnastics and Gymnastics for all which includes Kindergym.

As this is the case, we are welcoming everyone to participate. Gymnastics does appeal particularly to children and women, and as such, we are utilising our program to encourage physical activity amongst women. Furthermore, we have ensured that we have created an inclusive programme that allows people with a disability to also participate. Gymnastics has something to offer everybody!

SUN: Do you think the Oceania region could produce gymnasts that could excel in international competitions like the Olympic Games? Please explain?

LYON: Definitely! The Oceania region has a strong history of success in international competitions, including the Olympic Games. Australia and New Zealand have led the way, but we believe that with the development of these Federations and the Oceania Gymnastics Union, we will see Oceania Gymnasts from other Pacific countries competing in International competition and Olympic Games in the future.

SUN: The foods consumed in the islands are very different from the ones in developed countries. That is why obese is very epidemic in the Oceania region, so in what way will gymnastic assists in this?

LYON: The sport of gymnastics is not only accessible to people of all ages and ability, but it provides fundamental movement and a high level of fitness to its participants. This is why the Oceania Gymnastics Union strongly believes that gymnastics is a great way to try and combat the high levels of non-communicable diseases and obesity levels in developing nations.

We believe that by creating healthy attitudes to physical activity and fitness (especially from a young age), people will be more aware of the foods that they consume and how this effects their bodies.  OGU Federations will work with Ministries of Health to use gymnastics as a vehicle to combat NCDs.

SUN: With the formation of the Oceania Gymnastics Union, where will its headquarters be based?

LYON: This will be decided by the member federations at this meeting and in the coming months.

SUN: What pathway has the International Gymnastics Federation set for gymnasts from the Oceania countries if they are to participate in the Olympics?

LYON: The International Gymnastics Federation has recognised the effective pathways of Gymnastics Australia and Gymsports New Zealand, who both had gymnasts competing in Rio 2016.  Frameworks will be developed for each individual Oceania country to develop pathways based on their needs.  Ongoing support will be provided which may include expert coaches travelling to smaller Oceania countries from Australia or New Zealand, and Oceania gymnasts travelling to training camps.

SUN: Many sports people in the region have opted to become professional rugby or rugby league players to make their living. What about for professional gymnasts, what is in store for them?

LYON: There are less opportunities for gymnasts to pursue professional careers in the sport, although who is to say what the future may hold?

A start in gymnastics can also lead on to a successful career in any one of a number of sports.  You would be surprised at how many successful Olympic Athletes participated in gymnastics at some time in their life. And some sports require a gymnastics background, such as diving and aerial skiing.


Edited by Leone Cabenatabua.


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