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Raising The Bar: South African Gymnast On Gold And Getting On With The Sport

Published 2 months ago
By Lillian Roberts

After her recent gold at the World Cup in Cairo, 20-year-old South African gymnast Caitlin Rooskrantz tells us what it takes to win, despite injuries and setbacks, even as she looks forward to the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Topline

In a recent interview with FORBES AFRICA, South African gymnast Caitlin Rooskrantz discusses
sticking landings, receiving support, her proudest moments and setting her sights on the 2022
Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, England, from July 28 to August 8.

Background


In 2019, Rooskrantz became the first South African female artistic gymnast to qualify for the Olympics
since 2004. She was 17.

She also won her first gold at a World Cup with the uneven bars at the Artistic Gymnastics Challenge
event in Hungary the same year.

“And I think that was one of the biggest highlights of my career, winning that gold medal, because it
was so unexpected. I went into that competition with my biggest goal to try and get into the final. And
that already for me was goal achieved, anything after was just kind of a bonus,” says Rooskrantz.

A random draw is done for the order of gymnastic performances. She wound up being last, an
unenviable position.

“It was really intimidating. My biggest goal for the final was just to enjoy it, taking the moment, and I
ended up coming first, which was the cherry on top of all of it.”

She participated in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, not winning a medal, but delivering her personal best.

Her favorite event is the uneven bars.

Comprising of vault, floor, beam and uneven bars; artistic gymnastics is a grueling and difficult sport,
injury-prone, and with immense repetition behind the scenes. Crowds only see a few minutes of a
clean routine at an event.

She dislocated her knee multiple times, eventually tearing a ligament in her ankle from
overcompensating.

Her knee was becoming progressively unstable, so eventually, she opted for surgery. It took her nine
months to fully recover, and she couldn’t attend the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“The thing with being a high-level athlete, I was on bed rest for a week, and after, we got back in the
gym; even if it was for an hour a day, I would go to gym every day. I was doing upper body strength, I
was doing like rehabilitations in physiology and a lot of mental visualizations to try and keep in the
game somehow.

“I made the decision that that was not going to be the end of my career. I was not even halfway there
yet. So I really made a full recovery. I haven’t struggled ever since with my knee again, it’s been good
and I haven’t dislocated it.”

She says she wouldn’t be where she is today without the solid support system of her medical team, her
family and friends. She says her sport psychologist is important, as the mental side of a physical injury
is just as important to heal.

Speaking on the sacrifices to get where she is, Rooskrantz says she would do it all again.

“It’s a lot, you know, to get to that point that we all want to get to. But I can also definitely say having
gone to the Olympics and achieved my lifelong dream, it was all worth it. I would do it again, in a
heartbeat, to relive that Olympic dream again.”

Only 20 years old, Rooskrantz landed a gold for uneven bars at the 2022 FIG Artistic Gymnastics
World Cup in Cairo, Egypt.

“I think nothing compares to having to stand on the podium on an international stage and hearing
your anthem play. It’s very rare, because gymnastics is not a big sport in South Africa. And we are not
usually amongst the top five or 10. That’s always one of my proudest moments, is standing, hearing
the anthem playing, knowing, I did that, myself!”

Rooskrantz is going as an all-round gymnast to the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
She says she’s working tirelessly, upgrading her routines to get more difficulty in and become more
internationally competitive on uneven bars.

“Because I am capable of it. It’ll be my first Commonwealth Games. I’m really excited. I hope that I
can really showcase my best routine and I don’t know more or less what the competition standard is
like, but I’ll try my best to challenge for a podium finish,” she concludes, confidently.

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