Some of the state’s best and brightest gymnasts have descended on Hunter Sports Centre this week for the 2019 Gymnastics NSW Country Championships.
More than 3,000 athletes, spectators and officials are expected to pour through the gates at the Glendale-based facility over the five days of competition.
Women’s gymnastics kicked off on Wednesday, while men swing into action on Saturday morning.
Hunter Sport Centre programs manager Rohan Kennedy believes the event is important to strengthen gymnastics in country areas.
“We’re one of the very few programs or gymnastics centres around the Hunter Region that offers men’s gymnastics,” he says.
“So, it’s important for the sport that we continue to do that to give a competitive outlet for these young athletes and they’re all doing extremely well at the moment.”
Mr Kennedy adds Lake Macquarie council’s plans for a $35 million expansion of the centre will be a major boost.
The council lodged a development application last month, with proposed upgrades set to include a three-storey community centre, an athletics warm-up and testing area, and a $10 million trampolining centre of excellence.
A new access road, bus and car parking spaces and additions to the track and field facilities are also part of the plans.
“Hunter Sports Centre was always designed to be a regional hub for gymnastics and athletics and, 20 years on, that is still the vision,” Mr Kennedy says.
“Expanding into high-performance trampolining, specifically, will allow that vision to continue – it’s an area of gymnastics where we already have strength in the region and most of the national team members come from Newcastle.
“So, having a dedicated facility for that purpose would really benefit trampolining in Australia.”
One of the male athletes who will compete in the country championships, Cameron Jeanes, has been a gymnast for the past five years.
The 13-year-old is set to take on all six apparatus – floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar – and can’t wait to perform on home turf.
“We’re used to the bars and all the apparatus here,” he said.
“When we go down to Sydney to do a competition it can feel a bit weird, so that’s the advantage we have in the country championships.”
The event will wrap up this Sunday 21 July.