Reaching new heights


He leaps across the gym floor, flips in the air and lands gracefully on his feet.

Tumbling in the air is not just a fun pastime for Offering Tlaka (26): He's South Africa's top gymnastic trampoline champion whose skill has seen him compete in the sport across the world.

His coach, Hudson Nxumalo (44), is an ex-champion gymnast himself. He began participating in the sport at the age of seven while living in Soweto.

Hudson admits that when he started, it was just for fun and he didn't realise it could be a sport that would carve out his career.

'I saw children playing and doing somersaults at our local park,' he recalls. 'They were trained by a man called Mandla Gumbi and I started joining them and imitating what they were doing, it was a lot of fun.

'All the children interested in the sport around Soweto were bussed to Diepkloof Hall where we received equipment for artistic gymnastics and competed against each other,' he adds.

Read more in the 16 June issue of DRUM.

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