By Mark Etheridge
The South African gymnastics contingent at the upcoming World Games in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan will be in safe hands.
Of the more than 40-strong SA squad for Games, three of them will compete in the various gymnastic disciplines, Lebogang Ramokopelwa, Matthew Levy and Lucky Radebe. One of the original choices, Stephanie Sandler, had to withdraw from the team after injury.
Ramokopelwa will take part in the tumbling routine, Levy in the aerobic gymnastics and Radebe in the trampoline.
The management squad is laden with experience, especially in the shape of Anne Cameron-Smith, Tiaan van der Walt and Tseko Mogotsi.
Cameron-Smith is a former gymnast who competed at the last World Games in Duisberg, Germany in 2005 and her mother Elizabeth is CEO of the South African Gymnastics Federation (SAGF).
Mogotsi competed in no less than four World Games (1993, 1997, 2001, 2005) winning bronze in 1997 (Lahti, Finland) and silver in 2001 (Akita, Japan).
His expertise will be a huge help to Ramokopelwa, who hails from Mafikeng.
The Van der Walt family have gymnastics running through their veins, with Tiaan a bronze medal winner at the 1984 Trampoline World Age Group championships in Osaka, Japan and his mother Helen, who’ll also be in Kaohsiung as a judge.
As for the other competitors, Levy is a 33-year-old IT specialist from Cape Town, whose determination to do well at the Games can be seen from the fact that he postponed his wedding until after the games.
Hadebe originates from Alexander near Johannesburg, trains and studies in Pretoria at Tukkies and gets assistance from the High Performance Centre.
He is a classic example of an athlete from humble beginnings originally introduced into the sport to keep him out of trouble but who has since blossomed to become top contender in Africa. He’s currently the African Champion in the double mini trampoline.
The World Games run from July 16 to July 26.