Kirsten Beckett has got her senior gymnastics career off to a flying start by finishing a fantastic fourth in her first international competition as a senior on Thursday.
Competing in the women’s vault apparatus final at the 5th FIG Artistic Gymnastics Challenge Cup in Doha, Qatar, the 16-year-old from Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre (JGC) attained a final score of 13.587.
That meant she just missed out on a bronze medal with the winning score of Switzerland’s Giulia Steingbuber being 14.662 and the bronze medallist just ahead of her (Teja Belak of Slovakia) scoring 13.812. Beckett finished second in the vaulting preliminaries.
The three-day competition wraps up on Friday at the famous Aspire Dome and many of the gymnasts are using it as preparation for the London Olympics later this year. Beckett missed out on Olympic selection as she was too young to compete at last years Artistic World Championships, one of the qualifying criteria.
Coached by Ilse Laing and assistant coach Glen Hlongwane she’s still very focused with other goals and amibitions in mind, and has been training hard leading up to this World Cup. As a junior gymnast her highlight was winning silver in the vault at the Commonwealth Youth Games on the Isle of Man in September 2011.
Other South African female gymnasts competing at the Challenge were Nicole Szabo (17) and Claudia Cummins (16), both also from JGC. Unfortunately neither was able to attain spots in an apparatus final.
The next big competition on the artistic gymnastics calendar will be Africa Championships, to be held in Tunisia 9-14 April. With this brilliant result attained in Kirsten’s first senior international World Cup, we can look forward to even bigger and better results to come from SA’s rising star.