JUNIORS: Mayfield East gymnast Aphra O'Brien-Slade wins gold for Australia at Trans-Tasman Challenge

BALANCE: Mayfield East 15-year-old gymnast Aphra O'Brien-Slade claimed gold for Australia at the Trans-Tasman Challenge in New Zealand. Picture: Simone De Peak.

BALANCE: Mayfield East 15-year-old gymnast Aphra O'Brien-Slade claimed gold for Australia at the Trans-Tasman Challenge in New Zealand. Picture: Simone De Peak.

Double Arabian, double pike and a flip layout step out aren’t the sounds of summer for many 15-year-old girls.

But they will be for Aphra O’Brien-Slade in the coming months as she looks to hone her skills and make the most of a recent gold medal winning experience for Australia.

At her first international competition the Mayfield East gymnast won the junior (under-16) all round title at the Trans-Tasman Challenge held in Invercargill earlier in October. This included high rankings in her three final apparatus – beams (1st), bar (1st) and floor (2nd).

“It was a great experience,” she said before a training session at Blackerts Gymnastics Academy at Bennetts Green. “It was pretty special to be on the podium.”

Only a week earlier she recorded a personal best score of 13.85 on the floor at the National Club Championships in Bendigo.

Commonwealth and Olympic games are now the long term goal for O’Brien-Slade. In the meantime she hopes to improve before returning to the Australian Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne in May. 

BALANCE: Mayfield East 15-year-old gymnast Aphra O'Brien-Slade claimed gold for Australia at the Trans-Tasman Challenge in New Zealand. Picture: Simone De Peak.

BALANCE: Mayfield East 15-year-old gymnast Aphra O'Brien-Slade claimed gold for Australia at the Trans-Tasman Challenge in New Zealand. Picture: Simone De Peak.

* NEWCASTLE scored a footballing double in Sydney on Monday by claiming both NSW Primary School Sports Association State Knockout crowns. 

Hamilton South won the boys trophy and Wallsend South were victorious in the girls division at Valentine Sports Park in Glenwood.

Prior to this joint-premiers Valentine (boys) were the last team from this region to clinch the silverware in 2007 while 12 months later Kurri Kurri (girls) also got the job done.  

* HUNTER Sports High pair Floyd Tighe (boys) and Ngalika Barker (girls) have been selected in Lloyd McDermott national Indigenous rugby sevens development squads.

From the same stable NSW Combined High Schools rugby league representative Cody Bryant was named man-of-the-match in last week’s clash across the Tasman against a New Zealand Secondary Select side.  

And another duo from the Gateshead group, Jesse Jenkins and Kurt Donaghoe, will represent NSW CHS at the national touch football championships in Western Australia later this month. ​

* TO the fairways and the annual junior Week Of Golf will revert from 90 to 72 holes in Sydney early next year with all 250-plus competitors set to converge on Muirfield Golf Club for the finale on January 6.

Meanwhile, Belmont’s Joshuaa Robards was the best of the local finishers at the Jack Newton Junior Golf International played in the Hunter recently.

He was equal 11th in the sub-junior (under-14) boys section at Stonebridge with the win going to Hayden Hopewell of Western Australia. Avondale’s June Song took out the sub-junior girls. In the main draw (under-18) Josh Armstrong from The Lakes and Thailand’s Virunpat Olankitkunchai were crowned champions at Cypress Lakes.

* SCHOOL Sport Australia has released its draft schedule for 2017 with most of the events tailored towards the Pacific School Games in Adelaide next December.

At this stage the closest event to the Hunter will be the Under-18 Australian Schoolboys Rugby League Championships, set down for western Sydney suburb St Mary’s in July.

Still on the calendar for this year are primary tennis in Albury (October 22-30), touch football in Mandurah (October 23-28), golf for 12 years and under in Adelaide (November 13-17), surfing at Phillip Island (November 25-December 3), primary track and field at Homebush (November 25-29) as well as primary cricket in Canberra (January 6-13).

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