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Caitlin Rooskrantz ‘with the big dogs now’ after Commonwealth Games bronze

South Africa's Caitlin Rooskrantz participating during the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire/BackpagePix

South Africa's Caitlin Rooskrantz participating during the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire/BackpagePix

Published Aug 6, 2022

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Cape Town - Months after becoming one of the first women of colour to represent South Africa in gymnastics at the Olympic Games, Caitlin Rooskrantz again made history by claiming South Africa’s first medal in the uneven bars in Commonwealth Games history.

The Johannesburg-born Rooskrantz is only the second South African woman in the sport to get a medal at the Commonwealth Games. Durban-born Jennifer Khwela became the first after she won a silver medal in artistic gymnastics at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

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The two Tokyo 2020 Olympians Rooskrantz and Naveen Daries were the first persons of colour to be capped as gymnasts in the national Olympic team. It was one of many landmarks in Rooskrantz’s stellar career.

A few days ago, trailblazer Rooskrantz pulled out all the stops to take bronze in the women’s uneven bars final. It’s ‘touch and go’ right until the end because she ended on a tiebreak against England’s Ondine Achampong. However, Rooskrantz made it onto the podium because her execution score of 7.633 was higher than her rival’s 7.433.

Afterwards, Rooskrantz recalled how she had a stroke of luck on the day of the final at Arena Birmingham. After the random draw to decide the order of the competitors was done, she wound up being first – her favourite position.

“When I was drawn first up, I said to my coach I will take that as luck,” said Rooskrantz. “Often in the past when I was drawn as No 1, I ended up wining a medal and like to be first up, because it helps to put your rivals under pressure.

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“I did an amazing routine and one that I knew I could do well. I was pleased with my routine and my score. “It marked an improvement from the qualification, and I was happy. Then the anxious wait started to see the scores for each gymnast after me and where I’ll end up on the scoreboard. Eventually, it (my name) stayed at third and we (the team) crossed fingers, hoping it would end that way.”

“The moment I saw my name on the screen it meant everything to me. It was something that I was working towards forever.

“On the podium, I was standing with really good gymnasts, and it was such a big moment of realisation that I am with the ‘big dogs’ now.

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"It is good to say, and I am proud to say: ‘my name is Caitlin Rooskrantz, and I am a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist’.“

Rooskrantz’s coach Ilse Roets-Pelser, who was recently named SA Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Coach of the Year, says her charge has a great future ahead. The next major target for the 20-year-old fulltime student at the University of Johannesburg will be Paris 2024.

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"We've been working for this goal, for the last 10 years. I'm very proud of Caitlin, she's paved the way now for more success for Paris 2024, the next Commonwealth Games, and for the future of gymnastics, with a lot of young girls coming up. It is fantastic.“

Rooskrantz also praised the Birmingham crowd who supported all the gymnasts, not only the home nation England, and especially those who struggled with their routines. She had a mishap in an earlier round but drew great courage from the crowd’s support. “I didn’t have the best beam routine and I had a fall in the middle,” said Rooskrantz.

“But hearing the crowd cheer you on in the middle of that is kind of motivating, you know, to not make you feel so bad, and it can give you that oomph to really finish it off.” Anne Vermaak, CEO of Gymnastics South Africa, said the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) team placed South Africa firmly in the international spotlight with their incredible performance at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

@Herman_Gibbs

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