Club History

1972 – Colin McMullien, a successful gymnast, began coaching a handful of boys at the YMCA. Operating initially under the name ‘Athenic Gym Club’, they were affiliated to the Otago Gymnastics Association.

1976 – The club attracted increased membership through a newspaper advertising campaign, and moved to Southland Girls’ High School’s gymnasium. The first committee was established, with Ken Swain as President and James Horn as Treasurer.
The parents, coaches, and gymnasts set up the gym each evening and pulled down the equipment after each session.

1988 – The club became an incorporated society and remained at SGHS until a small fire caused by a heater damaged part of the locker rooms. The club moved back to the YMCA on Tay Street for a time, and the search began for a permanent home.

1991 – The Southland Gymnasium Association (SGA), was formed to purchase a building owned by the Catholic Dioceses. Founding members were Cliff Dawson, Eric van Rensberg, Keith Adams, Ken Swain, Neville Low, Tony Irvine, James Horn, and Roy Barlow. James Horn acted as secretary / treasurer and was the driving force in putting away a considerable sum of money that enabled the club to undertake the project.
The facility was soon found to be too small to accommodation growing numbers, and an ambitious plan was made to extend it.

1992 – Thirty members of the committee and parents showed their commitment to the sport by personally guaranteeing the mortgage of $120,000 from Trust Bank Southland. Keith Adams, Cliff Dawson, Tony Irvine, James Horn, and Neville Low each guaranteed $5000, Stephen Jenkins guaranteed $4000 and over 20 others, including coach Colin McMullien and Brian Golding, backed the project to the tune of $2000.

2000 – Previously, Southland gymnasts who qualified to compete at the National Championships had to win a place in the combined Otago-Southland regional team. IGC members were the prime movers in persuading New Zealand Gymnastics to allow Southland to break away from Otago, and Gymnastics Southland was set up at the end of 2000.

2001 – IGC successfully negotiated the employment of a full time coach, Vladimir Saraev, a successful women’s gymnastics coach in the former USSR. Vladimir took up his position as Director of Coaching in March, and remained for three years.

2004 – Nikki Bylsma (coached by Vladimir Saraev) became the first IGC women’s gymnast to represent New Zealand, competing in Hawaii in January 2004. Vladimir resigned on health grounds in February 2004. Aside from a brief absence in 2001, Colin McMullien still continued as men’s coach.

2005 – Part way through the year, Jane Bylsma took up the position of Director of Coaching for the club. She was a PE teacher who began her involvement with the club as a parent coach, and over the previous 13 years became a qualified coach and judge.

2007 – Mortgage from 1992 was finally paid off in full, and the gym bought a brand new sprung floor. Investigations were started to assess the feasibility of developing an even bigger facility that will accommodate the increasing demand for recreational gymnastics, including preschool and school programmes.

2011 – Collin McMullien retired from coaching, and Head Coaches were put into place to oversee the club’s four main gymnastic disciplines. Julia van Eeden became Head of Aerobics, Tracey Maclennan was Head of Gymnastics for All, Ranan Feit took up as Head of Men’s Artistic Gymnastics, and Jane Bylsma stayed on as Head of Womens Artistic Gymnastics as well as Coaching Director.

2012 – India Henry (coached by Jane Bylsma) made the New Zealand National Team and represented New Zealand in Hawaii competing at STEP 8. The MAG programme had two boys compete at Nationals for the first time in many years, and a first for Southland as a standalone region, where as previously it was combined Otago/Southland.

2013 – Karisa Webster (coached by Jane Bylsma) made the New Zealand National Team and represented New Zealand in Australia competing at STEP 8. The club also underwent a huge restructuring in the way of how its policies and procedures ran. This was a big step towards becoming more professional. Emily Feit took up the role as Head of Gymnastics for All.

2014 – Emily Feit started up a trampoline and tumbling class in term 4. IGC Also started up a Recreational Programme Manager role which was given to Emily Feit. The role focussed on organising which schools moveMprove would run in along with scheduling, etc.

2015 – Jane Bylsma stepped down from her position as WAG Head Coach and Coaching Director at the end of 2014, and Casey Barlow took up the role of WAG Head Coach. Trampoline and Tumbling (TRA) was now another official code supported by the club, with Emily Feit now being the Head of GfA, and TRA. IGC had athletes attending the National Championships for Trampoline and Tumbling for the first time this year. Due to various reasons the moveMprove programme lost funding and shut down in Southland, and thereby also ending the Recreational Programme Manager role. Ranan was the unofficial Coaching Director.

2016 – In May, Ranan was officially handed the role of Coaching Director after a year of no one taking up the role. After many years away coaching at other clubs, Vladimir and Angela Saraev left Tri Star Gymnastics and came back to IGC to coach as full time WAG coaches again. The club now had four full time coaches.

2017 – Kate Harvey was selected to represent NZ at the ANAC International Aerobic Championship, held in Phoenix, which is the official world-class athletic competition for selected winners and/or the highest-ranking athletes of ANAC and FIG national member affiliates. She placed 21st (18.000) in prelims and finished 20th (17.900) in the semi finals.

2018 – Kate Harvey (coached by Tracey Maclennan) once again got selected to represent NZ at the ANAC Championships.  Placing 13th – 17.70 in prelims; and 12th – 18.15 in semi finals.

2019 – Tracey Maclennan stepped down as Head Coach for Aerobics after holding the position for several years, and was awarded Life Membership at the club.  Kate Harvey (coached by Tracey Maclennan) was yet again selected to represent NZ, this time at the Suzuki World Cup.

2020 – Lewis Thomson (coached by Ranan Feit) was selected after Nationals in 2019, to be part of the NZ Levels team and compete in Texas early 2020. He competed with the team at both the Valeri Liukin, and the Houston Invitational. A few months after the competitions Covid-19 started to spread around the world, with NZ clubs having to halt training for several lockdowns throughout the year. Kate Harvey was selected to represent NZ at the Aerobic World Championships held in Baku, which was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid-19. Towards the end of the year an attempt was made to have at least a few competitions after the lockdowns to boost motivation for athletes, which came to be called the Super Series.

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