Big plans for gym

Gymnastics genius: Northern Irishman Vince Walsh wants to share his love of gymnastics with Queenstown

A former elite gymnast from Belfast, in Northern Ireland, has big dreams to grow the sport in the Whakatipu.

Queenstown Gymnastics Club coach Vince Walsh, 31, has set his sights on introducing new gymnastic codes to the area, and making the sport as accessible as possible.

‘‘I’ve just got so much love for the sport, so I just want to really develop it.

‘‘I don’t want anyone to miss out, and I want people to get in based on talent,’’ he says.

Prior to moving to Queenstown in 2018, Walsh competed at the highest level of gymnastics, representing Ireland in world cups, and European and World Championships.

‘‘My mum got me into the sport and I did men’s artistic gymnastics at high levels.

‘‘But I enjoyed trampolining, tumbling, and double mini [trampolining] (DMT) a lot more, so I made the transition over,’’ he says.

Now, with 15 years’ coaching under his belt, and international event experience, Walsh wants to break the sport wide open for the next generation.

‘‘I want kids to have the opportunity to go to international events and championships.

‘‘It doesn’t matter what age you take it up … I love coaching all abilities, whether you’re
a beginner, or want to go international, I treat everyone the same because what I love is
the confidence it brings out in kids.’’

Walsh says the sport’s development is ripe for the picking — all it needs is a resource boost.

‘‘We’ve got a really good community here — if we get the right set up, I’m pretty confident
we’ll have one of the biggest and best programmes in the country.’’

The first stage begins this week with the launch of QGC’s new DMT classes.

‘‘I think it’s quite an exciting code that hasn’t really been offered.’’

While the class will be held weekly at the club in Frankton, Walsh dreams of ‘‘getting a
proper set-up’’ at a venue with the height and space to accommodate several tramps and
a tumble track.

He says to continue to extend the club’s programme, another venue is needed and he puts
the call out for anyone with a suitable space to reach out.

‘‘I just want to develop the sport to really give kids a chance to do it here, and I think if we
did get an offsite venue, we can make our classes way more accessible.’’

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