Anya strikes Gold!
Anya Down lives with her parents and two siblings in Pukerua Bay. She is rarely, if ever, still and as I approached her house and saw a little figure bouncing to and fro across the window, it was clear who I was going to be talking to.
For someone who is only seven years old, Anya already has an impressive collection of trophies.
Anya started gym and ballet when she was three. She started both disciplines in Porirua but moved to the Kapiti Gym School because her coach in Porirua at the time recognised her natural ability and suggested that she might have more access to competitions there. There are seven girls in Anya’s class and she goes to two two-hour sessions a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
They all practise on the apparatus – beam, bar and vaulting - as well as on the floor. The bar is Anya’s favourite and she enjoys the routine of hip circles which requires her to perform ‘chin up, circle over, cast, hip circle and under chute’ – which sounds complex enough for most people, let alone a 7-year old!
When Anya appeared in the Kapi Mana News at the beginning of July she had just won Silver at a competition in Palmerston North. There was another competition at her club on 29 June where she came first on the vault, second on the beam, third on the floor and fourth on the bar and gained another Silver overall.
It is partly because Anya is good across the bar that she came away with a silver medal. There were between 50-60 competitors (mostly 8 and 9-year olds) in the Step 2 competition of the Women’s Artistic Gym (WAG levels 1-7). Each year gymnasts have to get enough points in the various competitions to go up to the next level the following year. The competition season is from May to September. Anya has already qualified to go up to Step 3 but because she is younger than many of the other competitors, she will remain in Step 2 this season.
Anya is also still doing her ballet in Porirua on Wednesdays. Her teacher is Deborah Hale and Anya has achieved Grade 1 ballet and Grade 3 tap.
She practises for two hours on Wednesdays. Competitions are all year round and she has won lots of trophies. Her baby sister, Matilda, is a little young, at one, to start competitions yet but she likes dressing the part and is very supportive.
Anya’s younger brother, Kahu, is also a keen sportsman and recently won ‘Player of the Day’ in one of his soccer matches. He loves kicking a ball around.
Anya used to play indoor soccer at Pukerua Bay School, where she is a year 3 pupil, and tennis at Titahi Bay. When all three children are following their chosen sports, one wonders how their mother, Emily, will cope with getting to all their matches. At the moment, Anya wants to go on dancing until she’s an adult and her dream is to become a ‘performer’. Emily says that one week she prefers dancing when there’s a competition looming and another week she prefers gymnastics for the same reason. It will be a shame if it ever happens that she has to choose between her two favourite sports.
But that decision can be put off for a while. On 19 August Anya entered the Onslow Gymnastic competition. She competed in her regular apparatus, floor, bar, beam and vault. She scored her highest in floor and vault, gaining first place on floor and second on vault with her floor score a 14.6 out of 15 so close to a perfect score. She gained 1st overall in the Step 2 section and has finally achieved her Gold Medal.
She is determined to do it again and has two final competitions for the year coming up over the next few weeks. This is a talent to watch.