South Africa’s Caitlin Rooskrantz elated with personal best score at Olympics

South Africa’s Caitlin Rooskrantz elated with personal best score at Olympics
Gymnast Caitlin Rooskrantz at the Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre. (Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim)

South Africa’s history-making gymnastics duo, Caitlin Rooskrantz and Naveen Daries fell short of qualifying for the final 0f the artistic gymnastics competition. Despite this, they’ve accrued some valuable experience on the international stage.

At just 19 years old, South Africa’s artistic gymnastics superstars Caitlin Rooskrantz and Naveen Daries made their Olympic debuts at Tokyo 2020.

Although the teenagers and best friends of 10 years failed to qualify for the final in the artistic gymnastics qualifiers, Rooskrantz bagged a personal milestone when she recorded her personal best score in international competitions.

Facing stiff competition from the likes of Simone Biles and the Russian juggernaut led by Angelina Melnikova, Rooskrantz managed an overall tally of 49.933 to finish in 61st spot overall. Daries was a bit further back, finishing 76th overall with a total tally of 46.365.

Rooskrantz, who along with teammate Daries etched their names in history by becoming the first women of colour to participate in the sport for South Africa at the Games, was elated with her first experience at the Olympics.

“It was incredible. I don’t know – I’m lost for words. I’m a little emotional. I think it’s a lot to take in. Throughout the competition, I had to remind myself that I am at the Olympic Games, because we don’t have the huge crowd and stuff,” Rooskrantz following her performance.

Rooskrantz made history in 2019 when she became the first South African gymnast to qualify for the Olympics through a world championship rather than a continental berth. She booked her ticket to Tokyo by winning gold in Szombathely, Hungary.

“I really enjoyed the experience and I’m really happy with where I finished,” added the former Parktown Girls pupil on her Olympic experience.

“I achieved my personal best today. It’s my best score in an international competition – and I think today was the day to do it, at my first Olympic Games.

“I started on the beam, which is quite stressful, and I started off well and carried that through my competition. And I’m really, really happy with my score.”

Ilse Roets-Pelser, who is the coach of the two athletes who hail from the Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre, was thrilled with the efforts of her charges at their first Olympics.  

“I am bursting with pride. Naveen had a rough start on beam, but went clean on the next three apparatus. She showed such character and class by shaking off the nerves and recovering well,” stated Roets-Pelser.

“Caitlin had a clean competition, without falls and scored an international personal best today, which is huge for her, considering it’s at the Olympics that she achieved this. She just keeps getting better and better.”

The experience will be priceless for the two gymnasts, who have shown over the last three years that they can do more than just compete on their day – they can win.

With the first chapter of their Olympic journey over, the teenagers are now eyeing a spot at the Commonwealth Games, which are scheduled to be held in Birmingham, England in 2022.

Having been ravaged by injuries in the lead-up to the 2018 edition, Rooskrantz missed out, but is ready to book a spot when the competition heads to England.

“The next goal is the Commonwealth; to make an appearance there because I haven’t yet. For now, I can’t even think past this moment, I’m still stuck here,” said Rooskrantz. DM


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