Gymnasts strive for podium finish in Czech Republic

From left, Emma-Jane Smuts, 14, Chantae Moller, 15, and Kaylee Maltz, 15, will be competing in next week’s international competition in the Czech Republic

In an industrial area in Montague Gardens, loud music thumps from what looks like a factory, but it’s the training centre for the Mega Gymnastics Academy.

The door is left ajar, and children as young as 4 can be seen doing back-flips, the splits and all kinds of tricks on beams and mats.

Three of the girls at the gymnastics academy, Kaylee Maltz, 15, Chantae Moller, 15, and Emma-Jane Smuts, 14, are gearing up to compete in the junior competitions at The Vera Cavslaska International Competition in the Czech Republic from Thursday November 23 until Sunday November 26.

This is the second time that Kaylee will compete in a competition abroad, but for Chantae and Emma-Jane, it will be a first.

Chantae said with her dedication to the sport, she hopes to do well in the competition. With nearly six hours of training daily, and a break from school, she is confident that the “hard work will pay off”.

Emma-Jane, who appeared shy at first, said she is the “joker” among her gym mates and encouraged them to always have fun. Even being part of the competition showed they were already winners, she said.

“I hope to have a clean competition but most of all remember to have as much fun as possible, while working extra hard,” she added.

Kaylee started doing gymnastics at the age of 2, Chantae said she had been in the sport for 9 years, and Emma-Jane started out when she was 5.

The hardest part of doing the sport was when one suffered from an injury, said the girls.

But Kaylee said it was easy to bounce back from it and do one’s best once you were healed.

“The efforts we put into the sport makes one question yourself on the bad days, but being in competition and seeing your friends are always so rewarding.”

She said gymnastics was like therapy, and when she’s having a bad day, she puts all of her energy into the sport and feels relieved after a training session.

Chantae said doing gymnastics instils discipline and the ability to work on yourself and in a team.

Emma-Jane said gymnastics made her feel whole and forget about the realities of life.

To compete in the upcoming competition in the Czech Republic, the girls had to undergo a stringent trials competition in March and get an average of 41% for their stunts. All of them qualified over and above the average.

Their friend, Zayna Dollie, 17, who competed in the Gym Games 2023, earlier this year, gave the girls a word of encouragement.

She said she had given up on the sport in the past, come back, and wanted to give up again, but the support from the coaches and other friends at the gym had helped her to be a “force to be reckoned with”.

She placed first overall on three apparatuses and took gold overall at the Gym Games 2023, which had motivated her to train even harder for the next one, she said. However, she will not be going to the Czech Republic next week.

Lindsay Buckley, head coach and owner of Mega Gymnastics, has also been selected as the national coach as well as the judge for the event next week.

To support the girls who will be representing the country in the Czech Republic, you can follow the Mega Gymnastics Academy’s Facebook page. Tabletalk will also be speaking to the girls when they return.

Zayna Dollie, 17, who competed in the Gym Games 2023, earlier this year, placed first overall on three apparatuses and took gold overall achievements