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Car crash can’t stop Zoonekynd competing at worlds

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By Mark Etheridge

Just over three months ago top gymnast Bianca Zoonekynd thought her gymnastics career was over as she lay in hospital after a late-night car crash in Port Elizabeth.

She had broken two ribs, a punctured lung and multiple cuts and bruises to her body.

But true to form, she’s bounced back into the fray and was in Thursday action at the FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Her and Offering Tlaka are the only two gymnasts in action at these world championships, Zoonekynd in the tumbling and double mini trampoline and Tlaka only in the latter discipline.

Thursday was the preliminary round of the tumbling, and Zoonekynd always knew that the tumbling would be the more difficult of her two events.

She ended 23rd of 33 starters with a score of 62.100. Only the top eight qualify for finals and they were lead by China’s Fangfang Jia with a score of 73.00.

Despite putting in two nice routines she was unable to include any links resulting in lost bonus points.

Making up for that frustration though was the fact that at the morning’s opening ceremony saw Zoonekynd being given the honor of reading the athletes’ oath.

Zoonekynd, who now gets some recovery in before the double-mini qualifications, spoke to Team SA after her tumbling routine.

‘After my accident I was very sore and I’m still a bit tender. It hurts most when I tumble but I’m making the most of what I can at this time.

‘I honestly never thought I’d be able to compete here but I’m so grateful that I’m able to attend.

‘I did have to scale down my first routine because doing the transition in my routine hurts my ribs and we also didn’t want to push too much as I still have qualification.

‘I’m frustrated that I couldn’t do my proper routine but I did two clean routines.

‘Training has been tough as some days it feels good and I can do lots of work but then the next day or even the rest of the week I battle with being sore. Training’s been tough here as I can’t just stop when I want as we have limited time – 45min in the training hall and 45min in the competition hall.

‘DMT is a bit quicker than the tumbling but the landings really kill me!’

In the picture (from left to right): Tlaka, manager/coach Mandy Zoonekynd and Bianca Zoonekynd in Bulgaria


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