Local gymnast wins gold
by Ann van Engelen
Sixteen-year-old Rolleston artistic gymnast, Finlay Jones, won double gold in the recent Gymsports National Championships in Auckland and is now off to America to represent New Zealand.
Finlay competed against the best gymnasts from around New Zealand winning a gold medal for his team and an individual gold medal on the pommel horse.
He is the first male artistic gymnast from the newly established Affinity Gymnastics Academy in Rolleston to represent New Zealand at the 2020 Valeri Liukin Tour to be held in Texas, where he will join six other gymnasts from around the country.
“I founded the club in Rolleston because there was no dedicated gymnastics facility in the Selwyn District. Finlay was first involved in gymnastics 10 years ago when we lived in the United Arab Emirates and then became competitive in the UK when we moved there,” says club president and father Ryan Jones.
“The pommel horse is his favourite piece of equipment. He has won a few lower-level competitions, and this was his first huge achievement. The competition in America is high level, and it will be interesting as his first international competition.
“Finlay has coached himself for the past 12 months, getting advice from other junior coaches making what he did at the Nationals more impressive,” Mr Jones added.
“We now have a former NZ representative gymnast and is international level coach Aaron on board. Things are getting better now, and he has learnt a lot in the last two weeks. Finlay has worked hard to get to where he is, and we are now starting to fundraise for the Texas trip.”
A year 12 student at Lincoln High School, Finlay is also on his professional coaching pathway through Gymnastics New Zealand. His commitment to training is juggled around his schoolwork, and he currently trains around 20 hours a week and is keen to develop the younger members in the gym.
“I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to represent New Zealand in America. I am very busy with my coach Aaron working on skills development. Gymnastics is the best foundation sport, and I am keen to see more boys in the gym, the younger, the better as it helps their development in so many ways,” says Finlay.