11 May 2016

Largest gym team in over 50 years named for Rio

11:59 am on 11 May 2016

New Zealand will send its largest gymnastics team to an Olympic Games in over 50 years, with three gymnasts named for Rio.

Mikhail Koudinov, Courtney McGregor and Dylan Schmidt will all make their Olympic debuts.

It will be the first time since the Sydney 2000 Games that a New Zealand gymnast has competed at an Olympics.

Koudinov and McGregor will compete in the men's and women's artistic gymnastics discipline while Schmidt will become New Zealand's first trampolinist to compete at the Olympics.

The 18-year-old Courtney McGregor from the Christchurch School of Gymnastics has been making her mark on the world stage since 2012.

Gymnast Courtney McGregor

Gymnast Courtney McGregor Photo: Supplied: NZOC

She had a strong showing in 2014 with a history making vault final at the World Cup in Doha, followed by a silver medal in vault finals at the Pacific Rim Championships.

She then then finished 17th in the vault at the World Champs last year.

McGregor will compete on all four apparatus in Rio, with a stronger focus towards her specialty apparatus of vault.

"When I first found out it didn't feel real and it took a while to actually sink in. But then I did a handstand lap around the lounge! I am proud to be going as so many people have worked towards this," said McGregor.

The 24-year-old Misha Koudinov from North Harbour Gymnastics began his international career when he was named as the youngest member in New Zealand's 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games Team.

Koudinov then took up a four-year university scholarship in the United States in 2010 where he continued to climb his way up the world rankings, narrowly missing out on the parallel bar finals at the World Champs last year.

Koudinov will compete on all six apparatus in Rio, specialising in parallel bars.

"I felt like I was 10 years old on Christmas morning, and Santa got me exactly what I wanted. I've known I've wanted to compete at the Olympic Games since I started gymnastics - I felt it was my destiny to dedicate my life to it and reach as high as possible," he said.

New Zealand trampolinist Dylan Schmidt, left, ahead of the test event in Rio on 20 April 2016.

Dylan Schmidt training at the Rio test event. Photo: Facebook / Dylan Schmidt

The 19-year-old Dylan Schmidt secured his place for Rio when he won a silver medal at the Olympic test event in Rio last month and follows a top ten finish at last year's World Champs in Denmark.

"It's a surreal feeling to have been selected to the New Zealand Olympic Team and a huge honour to be the first New Zealand trampoline athlete to do so," he said.

"I can't wait to compete on the biggest stage, representing my country and doing the best that I can."

GymSports New Zealand chief executive Tony Compier said ""this is an historic day for gymsports in New Zealand. This is our largest number of athletes selected to an Olympic Team since Tokyo 1964."

"It is also the first time that athletes from three different disciplines have qualified directly through the international qualification system. This means that not only have these athletes qualified by merit, but all three have made a strong case for targeting an Olympic Diploma (top 8 placing) in Rio."

The three athletes selected today brings the total number of athletes selected into the New Zealand Olympic Team to Rio to 81 athletes.

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