Gold medal for vault champion Emma

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Emma Bungard, above, in action on the vault and, below, with the gold medal won at the recent New Zealand Gymnastics Championships. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

Dedication and hard work is paying off for artistic gymnast Emma Bungard who has sprung to success and taken gold in the vault at the New Zealand Gymnastics Championships.

The Mount Hutt College Year 8 student represented Canterbury and won the WAG (women’s artistic gymnastics) Step 5 vault title last month.

There are 10 Steps in artistic gymnastics, ranging from beginners to high level gymnasts, and Step 5 is the lowest level that can qualify for nationals.

Emma started gymnastics at the age of five at the satellite club of Ashburton’s Dynamic Gymnastic Sports in her home town of Methven.

For the last three years she has stepped things up and travels to the Affinity Gymnastics Academy in Rolleston four times a week to follow her artistic gymnastics dreams and a competitive programme that is not offered locally.

Emma, who is 12, competes in all four artistic gymnastic discipline – vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor.

All require the gymnast to show agility, artistry, flexibility, power and style.

develop the necessary power to take off from the springboard and complete aerial skills before a stable landing.

Uneven bars need continous swings in both directions, the balance beam requires a series of leaps, jumps and turns, while the floor discipline follows a choreographed routine to music that includes tumbling, strength and balance movements.

Emma’s mum Michelle Bungard said her daughter worked very hard at gymnastics and was a perfectionist and extremely competitive, but in a totally positive way.

Emma’s brother Aidan has been inspired to give gymnastics a go and he trains three times a week.

He was Emma’s number one supporter and understood how hard the skills were and how hard she worked, Mrs Bungard said.

During covid the siblings trained in the home garage via zoom and later in the gym in bubbles of 10.

“It is a massive commitment for our family, but somehow we make it work.

“Gymnastics is like swimming where you train all year around otherwise you lose body conditioning.

“Emma is constantly learning new skills and routines and her coach is currently selecting next year’s floor music, which will then be choreographed.”

Michelle said her daughter’s gymnastic strengths were her power and raw strength.

Vault and tumbling skills on the floor were her favourites.

“Gymnastics is Emma’s life at the moment and the squad and coaches at the academy are like a second family.”

Emma aims to improve on her overall individual placings across all apparatus at next year’s nationals and has dreams of competing for her country one day.

-By Mick Jensen