Rhythmic gymnasts off to Italy

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Photo: Olympia Ashburton gymnasts Madison Townshend, 8, Marama Harrison, 7, Maisy Bowan, 8, Arnica Copland, 9, and Greta Bowan, 5.

Five young local rhythmic gymnasts are off to attend an international gathering in Italy.

Olympia Ashburton gymnasts Arnica Copland, Greta Bowan, Madison Townshend, Marama Harrison and Maisy Bowan will take part in the 8th International Rhythmic Gymnastics Tournament Sport Club Andromeda event in June.

The girls had been preparing well “for this amazing opportunity” and would compete with rope, hoop, ball and freehand against competitors from all over the world, said local tutor Michelle Smith Copland, a former Great Britain representative rhythmic gymnast.

The girls were very excited to be invited to compete in their first international event and had been fundraising hard for it.

She said the girls aimed to improve their skills and to make new friends on the trip.

Connections made could result in a similar event being held here in the future.

The youngest team member, Greta Bowan, is just five, and she will take part in the training camp that follows the event. The oldest team member is nine.

The girls will be expected to train between seven and eight hours per day under the guidance of a Russian coach.

The experience and exposure they will receive will greatly benefit them for the upcoming competition season back home, says Mrs Smith Copland.

Last year the club, which has been running for just three years, won a number of titles, including at the Canterbury championships, and also amassed a haul of medals from the international and domestic pathway.