The ‘Better-sweet’ Truth

Putting it all Together

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Artistic
gymnastics consists of six disciplines: Floor, rings, high bar, pommel horse,
parallel bars and vaulting. Much of the work done in these disciplines requires
intense muscle strength and control, along with flexibility and balance, but
Nick says endurance comes into it as well. “Ninety percent of gymnastics is anaerobic,
but the high bar takes a huge toll on you and you need endurance, so my running
fitness definitely helps there. On the other hand, the strength, endurance and
balance of gymnastics helps with pretty much any other sport, which is why I
picked up running so quickly.”

 

Nick (23)
is currently studying B.Sc. Sports Science at Stellenbosch University, where he
is a member of the gymnastics club. He took up the sport in high school, while
also participating in the discus and shot put in athletics, and has added
trampolining and tumbling for fun in recent years. “You must do all six
disciplines for the overall rankings in artistic competitions, and my strongest
disciplines are the rings and floor. I love the physical challenge of
gymnastics – there is always something new to learn and another level up to
strive towards – plus the social aspect of my club is great. We all have
similar interests and tastes.”

 

He says
that for now, his goal in gymnastics is to maintain his current level and have
fun, because to push for the highest levels in the sport would require far more
training time than the six hours a week he can currently fit in around his busy
academic schedule. “For now my goals are the Boland Champs, then the SA Champs,
but mostly it is about having fun while competing with the university club.”

 

MULTISPORTER

His other
major sporting goal is to put more time into his running, swimming and cycling,
so that he can improve on his initial road running and triathlon performances. “After
school, I started running because I was upset about my overall fitness. I
started with beach running, then did my first 10km race, and within six months
I was running half marathons. I’ve run a 42-minute 10km and 1:43 for the half
marathon.”

 

“I love the
tension release and relaxed mindset that running gives me, and the fresh air
and scenery. I enjoy technical trails and running on the beach, and especially
love running downhills, but with my studies being so demanding these days, I
usually only get about two runs in per week, on top of everything else I am
doing.” Besides gymnastics, that includes swimming and cycling, since Nick has also
taken up triathlon in the last few years, which saw him enter the 2011 Ironman
70.3 and finish in 7 hours 58 minutes.

 

“Ironman
went fairly well, but I realised I had not done enough for the swim,” he says. “I
had only trained in the pool and struggled with the open water conditions, but
my running made up for it. Now I want to branch more into triathlon, so my
immediate goal is to get my swimming on par with my running, and to maintain my
current cycling fitness. And still find time to fit in gymnastics!”

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