Naveen Daries makes SA gymnastics history by qualifying for Tokyo Olympics

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South African gymnast Naveen Daries (Gallo images)
South African gymnast Naveen Daries (Gallo images)
Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

South Africa will have two artistic gymnastics competing at this year's Tokyo Olympics after Naveen Daries qualified for the Games, which is scheduled from 23 July to 8 August.

Daries ensured her qualification at the 15th Individual African Gymnastics Championships in Cairo on Thursday to join fellow team-mate Caitlin Rooskrantz in Japan.

Daries was joined by her sister Zelme in Egypt as they made history by being the first women's team to be represented by sisters.

The Daries sisters were accompanied by fellow team-mate Mammule Rankoe and Caitlin Rooskrantz, who has already qualified for this year's Olympics but travelled to support the girls.

READ | SA gymnast Caitlin Rooskrantz on breaking barriers, aims for 'no major faults' in Tokyo

The girls competed on all four apparatus against competitors from Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, and Cameroon to pursue the two births (only one per country) to the Tokyo Games.

Following a strongly contested battle, South Africa's Naveen Daries and Zeina Sharaf from Egypt walk away with the coveted two spots.

"It has been a tough 15 months with no international participation for the girls, with immense pressure with the Olympic qualification as their first competition back," said SA's gymnastics coach Ilse Pelser.

"I am proud of how they applied themselves and adjusted on the day in their quest to qualify for the Olympic Games. Today saw Naveen pull out every strategy to grab that coveted place." 

The results of the Championships will see South Africa for the first time send two gymnasts to the Olympics Games. This will also be the first time since 2004 that women's gymnastics will see a South African at the Olympics. 

"We are so proud of our women's team. All their hard work over many years is finally seeing the results. We can't wait to see them on the Olympic stage in July following the Egyptian World Challenge Cup next week," said Donny Jurgens, president of Gymnastics South Africa.

Rooskrantz and Naveen will remain in Egypt with Pelser and judge Paddy Chadwick to attend next week's World Challenge Cup Cairo before returning home for final preparations for July's Games.

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