Caitlin Rooskrantz made history in 2019 when she became the first South African artistic gymnast to qualify for the Olympics…

While her chance to represent her country at the prestigious games has been put on hold for now, she’s determined to continue making an impact in the world around her.

The plan was to win gold at the 2020 Olympics. Now she has a new plan.

While in lockdown, Rooskrantz has been hard at work refining her routine, and preparing for another South African first – she will be LIVE STREAMING her routine on 2 August. “I hope that South Africa will log on and cheer me at www.nowisthetimetoplan.co.za,”

How did Rooskrantz become one of the country’s top artistic gymnasts?

She was an “extremely active” child, and her parents were advised to sign her up for gymnastics lessons so that she could channel her energy in an effective way. At the age of six, she joined the Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre (JCG) which is owned by her coach, Ilse Pelser.

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Her natural talent shone out from the very beginning and in 2016 received the SAGF award for the Gymnast of the Year.

Tragically her father passed away in 2010

Rooskrantz was just eight years old at the time. “When my dad passed I had a choice to make,” she recalls. “I could either let it consume me for the rest of my life or I could choose to build resilience. I chose the latter.”

She hopes to inspire other young South African gymnasts by being a “beacon of hope and to hold on to their dreams – because anything is possible. Regardless of any challenges or setbacks one may face, with the right attitude and the correct planning everyone can reach their dreams.”

READ MORE: 5 Super-simple beauty & healthy lifestyle tips from one of SA’s top artistic gymnasts 

Tackling body image issues

As a teen, Rooskrantz says she was fairly self-conscious about her body. “I was more muscular than the boys in my class!” she recalls. “However, as I matured, I began to educate myself about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. And what it takes to be a strong, healthy, and powerful young woman to be able to perform at my best. With that, my confidence really grew, and as my gymnastics evolved so did the idea of what the ideal body image is.”

Covid-19 setbacks & silver linings

After matriculating last year, Rooskrantz had planned to pursue a career in forensics. “However, the entire pandemic has explicitly highlighted what it really takes to work in the medical industry,” she says.

“So during the pandemic I’ve managed to take stock of my future. Having to train and keep fit from home proved that gymnastics is not hard work for me. I realised I’d actually like to stay in the gymnastics world for the rest of my life. I just need to figure out where and how I can make a valuable contribution.”

“The development of gymnastics and every other sport at a grassroots level is something I would like to be involved in developing further. I’d like to see us getting easier access to the right equipment, the best training and just creating great environments for talent to be cultivated because our country is filled with young talented people.”

Self-motivation has helped her weather the Covid-19 lockdown

“As with any situation there are always positives and this pandemic is no different. I’ve got to do many things I would not have been able to do like cooking, spending time with family and reading.”

“Staying fit and healthy required a lot of internal motivation,” says Rooskrantz who had to adapt her training significantly under lockdown.

“All is not lost though – My motivation for the Olympics was always to perform my routine for my country and with Sanlam’s help and support, I’m still getting to do that on the day that I would have contended at the Olympics in Tokyo.”

Support our SA star!

Caitlin will be LIVE STREAMING her routine on 2 August. “I hope that South Africa will log on and cheer me at www.nowisthetimetoplan.co.za.