Nick Caruso has made history, becoming the first Deniliquin gymnast to qualify for a national championship.
The 11 year-old qualified after an impressive performance in the Tumbling Qualifying Competition at Palmer’s Gym in Bendigo on Sunday.
Needing a minimum score of 55 points to qualify, Nick managed 47.3 on his first attempt.
But he overcame the pressure and the Deniliquin South School student scored 57.4 following his two passes on his second attempt to qualify for the 2018 Victorian State team.
The first pass required for qualification saw Nick complete a round-off, six back hand springs and finishing with a back lay-out, with the second pass requiring three back hand springs with a full twisting layout to finish.
After missing out on the 2017 team by 0.2 points last year, the Deniliquin Gymnastics Club member said it was mission accomplished on Sunday.
‘‘I was really happy and it felt good to qualify,’’ he said.
‘‘Making it to nationals has been my goal since I started gymnastics.
‘‘My next goal is to perform as best as I can at the event.
‘‘I travel to Palmer’s Gym in Bendigo every week to learn new skills and get extra coaching.
‘‘But the Deniliquin Gymnastics Club will always be my home club. Everyone there has helped me get to this stage.’’
Nick’s gymnastics journey started in 2016 when a bit of fun with flips and cartwheels in the family backyard over the summer school holidays with his neighbour progressed into a sporting career.
‘‘My neighbour Gabby Wade encouraged me to join the gymnastics club after teaching me how to do a few tumbling moves,’’ he said.
‘‘I like gymnastics as I feel free when I’m doing it, plus it’s a lot of fun.
‘‘My head coach Rachel Bucholtz has helped me a lot and I’d like to thank her so much.
‘‘She’s helped teach me the basics, like keeping my arms and legs straight, which is really important.’’
Bucholtz was the first Deniliquin gymnast to qualify for the Riverina Combined High Schools (CHS) Gymnastics team in 2000, but she said Nick’s qualification was the most rewarding moment of her gymnastics career.
‘‘Providing opportunities for others and being a part of Nick’s success in reaching a national championship is a far more rewarding feeling than any of my own successes as a gymnast,’’ she said.
‘‘The state level comp that I went to was very minor in the scale of things.
‘‘Nick’s achievements so far have gone well and truly beyond expectations and to have him compete at a national championship is massive for the town.
‘‘He’s just such a natural talent and he’s also so modest about it.’’
It was a big weekend for Nick, claiming the Deniliquin Gymnastics Club Gymnast of the Year award at the club’s presentation on Saturday.
~ Details on the gymnastics presentation day on page 35.