Fatiemah van der Heever from Retreat and Jeron Arendse from Steenberg have returned from Pretoria after representing South Africa at the Region 5 gymnastics competition this weekend. They joined fellow South Africans as well as competitors from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.The two both belong to St Mary’s Gymnastics Club at St Mary’s Primary School in Retreat Road.Both Fatiemah and Jeron attended the school, with Fatiemah now in Grade 8 at Zwaanswyk High School.The two qualified to take part in the event after competing at the South African National Gym Games last month, also in Pretoria.Fatiemah has been doing gymnastics since 2011, when she was six, while 11-year-old Jeron has only been doing gymnastics for the last three years.For Fatiemah it wasn’t difficult to catch the bug.“The fact that people had fun enjoying time after school together, while still learning something. What I enjoy is the fun I have trying out new tricks and stunts. Over the years I have learned a lot and accomplished the most difficult moves and became the top gymnast in the club,” she says.She is overwhelmed at her selection to represent her country at the games. “I am excited about achieving what I have always wanted in life of being a gymnast and have finally reached my goal,” she says.Jeron, who has two sisters who also do gymnastics, was attracted to the sport after his older sister started winning medals.“Gymnastics taught me how to be disciplined. I like everything about gymnastics but my favourite discipline is acrobatics. Acro (acrobatics) has taught me to be happy with my partner(s) and to not be afraid. I feel proud about myself and I feel excited to have competed in the international competition in Pretoria,” he says.Jeron also has aspirations of becoming an Olympic gymnast one day and says it will have a positive influence on anyone’s life.“Find something constructive instead of getting into drugs, smoking, drinking or getting into gangsterism and being on the streets,” he says.Jeron’s mother Cherlyn Arendse is extremely proud of both of them.“For me this is the first time in the history of the school (St Mary’s Primary School) that they’ve got a child going to an international sport event competing. The fact that it is my child, it is quite a big thing for me, it is awesome. I think it is going to give the kids in the community a little bit of hope. They go to school opposite Cafda and opposite 12th Avenue where there are so many shootings and gang violence and here is a child who is in Grade 5 and 11-years-old and he is going to compete. I just hope that he will inspire other children to stay off the street,” says Cherlyn.She holds high praise for the duo’s coach Marilyn Julies, who volunteers her services to the gymnasts.“The coach is amazing and she sacrifices so much of her own time. She does not get paid to do it and whatever she does, it is really from her heart. She has had to fight her way to get these kids where they are and she really inspires me and I hope to be like her one day,” she says.Meanwhile, Fatiemah adds that although she is passionate about her sport, she is not planning to turn it into a professional career, but plans to remain close to the sport.“I wasn’t planning on making my career as a gymnast, maybe as an after-work activity by helping community kids by accomplishing the same as I did and teaching them gymnastics,” says Fatiemah.However, she encourages her peers to join her and promises they will enjoy the sport if they just give it a try.“Just try it out and I promise you that you will certainly like it. It keeps you off the streets and is good for your health. It keeps you fit and you’ll accomplish all your dreams as a fellow gymnast and as a 13-year-old high school student I hope you’ll join me soon and try competing against me because I like a bit of a challenge,” she says. V For more information about St Mary’s Gymnastics Club, contact Marilyn Julies on 081 747 6160 or at email@example.com.