Posted by: Tom Archer
Miss Maw recently caught up with one of our aspiring gymnasts to talk about her progress and the demands involved with training to be an elite gymnast
Name: Ella van Zoest
Position : Squad captain BSN
Club: Pro Patria Zoetermeer and the BSN gymnastics team.
What are your strengths as a gymnast?
I am very focused and a perfectionist by nature. This is a very good skill in gymnastics as I approach every skill with the motivation to continually improve and perfect my performance. As a gymnast you need to be graceful and expressive, as well as being strong and athletic. After years of training I have developed the ability to combine these skills and perform them in front of judges and an audience. Luckily, another skill I have is staying calm under pressure. This is really important in competitions where perfection counts. I tend to perform best when the stakes are high.
How did you get involved in gymnastics?
I wanted to do gymnastics for as long as I can remember. When I was 2 I used to have a trapeze hanging in my bedroom. I started in a club when I was 4. From that point on I joined several competition clubs as well as joining the BSN team.
Before training (since it is straight after school) I will usually have a sandwich so that I have enough energy. Before competitions I tend to eat fruit like bananas or grapes- nothing too heavy so that I am not restricted in my movements or feel sick.
Where did you first begin training?
Olivio Turnen in Pijnacker
What has been your toughest competition?
The National Championships in the Netherlands for my division would probably be the toughest. As well as competing all round, I also went through to the beam finals where even the smallest error has very large consequences. I have never felt so pressured in my life. On saying that, ISGA the National annual competition in the UK, has always been the most important to me. The standards are extremely high and I always feel very motivated to do well individually and for the BSN team. I am very tough on myself in this competition.
What has been the best facility that you have performed at?
Turnace Hall of Gymnastics in Amsterdam
Who is your role model and why?
Growing up in the gym squad I have always looked up to and aspired to be like the senior gymnasts. For example, I used to watch ex BSNers Iona Cumming, Erika De Leener and Louise Finch as a junior and wished to be as good as them. Now my name will be next to theirs on the senior captains board. I am also inspired by my coaches who have continued to be dedicated to gymnastics into their adult lives.
What is your proudest moment?
Getting through to the National Championships and becoming ISGA U15 champion.
How has the BSN helped your progress in and outside of school?
The BSN gym team has been a large influence in both my gymnastics development and as a person. My coaches have always believed in me and made me feel successful. It helped me grow in confidence, take the lead and develop trusting relationships. Over time the squad has become like my family, I look forward to training every week. Becoming captain has given me the opportunity to have responsibility and be a role model to the younger gymnasts. I am very grateful that I can follow my passion at school and represent BSN in something I love.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I hope to continue to be involved with gymnastics once I have left school. I would like to train as a coach and perhaps join a new squad at uni.
What does an average training schedule look like for you?
We usually start with a warmup, this consists of running, lots of stretching and conditioning. We then often practice core floor skills before splitting into separate apparatus. We rotate around floor and vault as well as spending time on individual and group routines around competition times. Each training can have a different focus depending on what the coach would like to prioritize. At the end of the training we stretch and cool down.
How many times a week do you train?
I used to train 5 times a week (3 hours a session just for gymnastics) until very recently. I have decided to cut down due to my sixth form commitments. I now train twice a week for gym and twice a week modern/contemporary dance.
Do you have to work on your fitness away from the club?
During holidays or when there is no training I find it important to stay fit and flexible. I set myself fitness goals.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I hope to have successfully graduated from university, I will probably be travelling on a gap year, but I hope I will still be involved in gymnastics.
Do you have to follow a diet?
During competitive training we were expected to eat a healthy diet balanced with fruit and vegetables. Sweets were not allowed and drinking lots of water has always been important.