Kirsten Beckett (RSA): Hungry for More

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African Gymnastics Championships/AGCofficial.com
South Africa will host the 12th African Gymnastics Championships featuring both artistic and rhythmic gymnastics from March 24 to April 1. Kirsten Beckett is looking forward to competing for the senior team.

Kirsten Beckett is a South African gymnast making a name for herself and her country in the elite gymnastics world. Beckett became a senior in 2012, where she finished 2nd in the African Championships. Although she was age eligible for the Olympics, she was not chosen as the athlete to represent South Africa. Since then, Beckett has continued to lift the name of her country in gymnastics as she follows in the footsteps of Jennifer Khwela. Beckett has competed in numerous World Cup meets finishing 2nd on vault at the 2013 Ljubljana, Slovenia Challenge Cup and delighting plenty with her floor at the Doha Cup. Beckett made the South African World Championship team and became the first South African gymnast to score above 50 in the all around at the meet with a 50.332 and finishing 27th in vault qualifications with a 1.5 twisting Yurchenko and full twisting Tsukahara.

Could you talk about gymnastics in South Africa?
Gymnastics is a fast growing sport in South Africa and to be an elite gymnast you have to follow the South African Gymnastics Federation high performance programme. This path follows the FIG criteria to be a possible Olympic gymnast.

When did you first realize that you were doing well in gymnastics? 
I first realized I was doing well in gymnastics when I started getting a world ranking, it made me realize how good I could be. That's when my goal of making world champs or Olympics started to become more real. I also knew I was getting better at the African championships in 2012 where I competed as a senior and placed second over all. Being at World Cups and around World Champions and Olympians definitely made me more hungry to fulfill my goals.



What's a typical training day like for you at home?
Well I go to training straight after school and we start at 3pm and finish at 7:15 pm. I train from Monday to Saturday. And when I can, I train 2 hours in the morning before school.

Could you tell us a little about Worlds? What was the qualification process like for you and the other girls? What were your goals for Worlds?
Our qualification was in June through trials where we had to score a minimum of 49. My goal for my first world championships was to have a clean competition. (2013 Worlds UB routine)



You're at Desert Devils now. How did this exchange come to be?
Wesley Jones, originally from South Africa, has been involved with our Federation for a few years and my parents and coach took the opportunity and requested his assistance. He is a very good coach and is helping me along with my parents and coaches in South Africa to make my goal of making the Olympics a reality. I've known him since I was 10 years old and we work well together. [Beckett has been to Desert Devils before.] 2013 was the first time I've ever travelled alone and been away from my family for such a long period of time, 2 months. I got to experience my first Thanksgiving this year in the States and it was so much fun - the food was really good and the spirit of the holiday was so joyful. It's always hard to be away from my family on Christmas but the experience I had in the US was just as fun - very festive and traditional. On New Years, we watched fireworks outside the house and stayed up till midnight. It was all a lot of fun.

I know I saw instagram pictures of you with the Cipra girls and Desert Devils has plenty of girls looking at or currently competing in NCAA. Have you thought about NCAA at all?
It could be a possibility in the future. I haven't given it serious thought as of yet.

Are you working on any new skills? 
Well this year I'm hoping to increase my start value on floor by adding another D jump and E tumble (full-in), a D dismount off beam (double tuck). And upgrading my vault to a Yurchenko double twist. I'm working on the upgrade to a Tsuk 1 1/2 but for now I want to get the Yurchenko double down and solid.

Could you tell us about your old floor routine and if you have any plans right now for a new one?
I've already had a new one done while I'm in the States. I found my old floor music online and I loved it the first time I heard it however it was too common at World Championships. Now I had my floor music done. A coach at Desert Devils named Ashley choreographed it and Wesley Jones compiled the music. It's very different compared to my old one.



Who were your role models growing up?
My parents definitely. I always admired Jordyn Wieber and Shawn Johnson.

What are your goals for 2014 and for the future?
My goals for this year is to make the Commonwealth team and World Championships again. And for the future my main goal is to make the Olympics.


Thank you, Kirsten, for the interview and best of luck to you in the future!


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