By SHELLEY TOPP
Kaiapoi artistic gymnast Jorden O’Connell-Inns has been selected for the New Zealand team to compete at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Doha next month.
The competition will be held at the Aspire Academy Dome in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in the Arabian Gulf.
The New Zealand team of five men and four women will be hoping for a finish in the top 24, which will entitle a Kiwi team to compete at next year’s world championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
Selections for the New Zealand team have traditionally come from the North Island, mainly Auckland, and Jorden, who is 21, is the first male from the South Island to make the team.
He became interested in the sport as a 6-year-old.
“We went along to a Have a Go Day in Christchurch,” he said.
Artistic gymnastics appealed to him because the many different apparatus involved provided a huge challenge.
“Learning to do something a lot of other people can’t do was also appealing.”
He joined the Christchurch School of Gymnastics and has been a member for 15 years. He trains 20 hours a week and is “as close as you could get’ to becoming a professional gymnast.
Selection for the New Zealand gymnastics team provides Jorden and his team-mates an opportunity to represent New Zealand in their chosen sport, but it comes at a high cost. Members must pay all the costs involved.
Jorden has a part-time job with Cable Price NZ in Hornby to help pay his costs.
His parents, Ronda and Noel O’Connell-Inns, also contribute towards Jorden’s costs and he won the MainPower 2016 Youth Support Scholarship which helped fund his trip to Paris and Hungary last year to compete in the World Cup events.
“Paris was amazing, he said.
“At the end of 2017 MainPower also helped me out with a $2000 scholarship, which went towards my training costs and the trials that got me selected into the World Champs team.”
MainPower has agreed to help Jorden with costs for his Doha trip, but the particulars are still being worked out.
Artistic gymnastics involves six different apparatus events for men – the floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar.
For women there are four events – the vault, uneven bars, beam and floorwork.
The World Artistic Gymnastic Championships are held annually except during an Olympic year.
Last year, teams from 70 countries took part in the championships in Canada.
Although team numbers have not been confirmed, 80 countries are expected to be represented this year, including powerhouse teams from the United States and Japan.
Olympic medallist and three-time world champion Simone Biles, from the US, and Japan’s Kohei Uchimura, winner of seven Olympic medals, including three golds, and a six-time World Champion, are both expected to be competing.
The top three teams at the championships will be awarded automatic entry to the next Olympic Games in Japan during 2020.