By Horiana Henderson
On the beam, balance is everything but one gymnast’s hearing impairment takes her game to another level of difficulty.
Jasmine Neale-Snashall, 13, dances with her friends as they wait for their event to begin. She wears two glittery pink hearing aids but the devices are almost invisible as she competes in the 14th Annual Anchor AIMS Games.
It took Susan Hanley a year’s worth of convincing to build the gymnast’s confidence but, in the end, her coach just put her forward for AIMS.
“She’s a good gymnastic,” Hanley says. “She realises that she can do all the things and that she does a good job. I think she’s pretty amazing”.
The Otumoetai Intermediate student was uncertain of her ability in the beginning.
“I just enjoy gymnastics. It’s fun,” Neale-Snashall says.
She can not hear well, usually lip-reads and struggles with balance and spacial awareness. Her coach approached her training by breaking each movement down and not moving on until Neale-Snashall’s balance was firm.
Hanley can see that Neale-Snashall’s hearing affects her balance but the pair have worked hard to consolidate balance skills.
“It’s more the body shapes and where she’s holding herself and slowing her down because obviously she has more balance when she slows down,” Hanley says.
Neale-Snashall may have greater challenges on the beam but her fears are the same as most teenagers.
“It’s sort of scary because you can fall off and embarrass yourself,” she said.