Nurturing young gymnasts

By STEVE ARCHBOLD

JADE Richards found the time she spent as a gymnast so rewarding, moving to coaching was a natural transition.

The many hours she spent during gymnastics training has now been transferred to nurturing the talents of other youngsters.

Jade, 24, now supervises classes from beginners to advanced level at Coffs Harbour Gymnastics Centre in O'Keefe Drive.

Jade said watching the girls go from beginners to advanced level is always a special feeling.

"I spent some time with Melissa Munro when she was younger and she went on to represent Australia in the Olympic Games in Athens this year," she said.

Jade has been involved with gymnastics since the age of five working her way through the ranks to be a level 6 State champion for two successive years.

"Training would be for three hours, four nights a week, it sounds tiring but because I just loved the sport, it was fun and it didn't seem too bad," she said.

"The hardest part about gymnastics was learning all the new skills and perfecting your routines to ensure you always had a chance to score the top marks."

When it came to hanging up the leotards as a competitor, Jade wanted to do something which would keep the flame burning for her interest in gymnastics.

"I took up coaching about seven years ago because I loved gymnastics, I always used to look up to my coaches so I thought this would be a good way to stay involved," she said.

"It brings back a lot of memories coaching the young girls and watching them have a good time."

The coaching program for each gymnast is different depending on the skill level they are training for.

"Once you are competent and pass at one level you go to a more difficult level," she said.

Jade's enthusiasm for the sport is unlimited and she says it is great for youngsters when they see someone like former Coffs Harbour junior Alexandra Croak representing at the highest level.

"Alex came to the gym one day after she had represented Australia and the kids were really thrilled, it gives them an incentive to stay in the sport," she said.

"It's all about going in their and giving it everything you've got, the competition life span for a gymnast is relatively short because by 16 you are virtually finished, the girls have to start young to build up their muscles ."



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