Q&A with South African and African Rhythmic Gymnastics Champion, Grace Legote

Grace Legote embodies the ultimate Rhythmic Gymnast. She's tall, beautifully proportioned, extremely flexible, elegant and exciting to watch. For someone that started quite late in the sport, she's accomplished a tremendous amount.

She has been a member of the South African Senior National Team for several years and is the current South African Champion and African Champion. Grace has competed in 4 World Championships (2009 Mie, 2011 Montpellier, 2013 Kiev and 2014 Izmir) as well as a number of other International Grand Prix's and Competitions. She placed 10th at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. 


Q. When did you start with Rhythmic Gymnastics?

A. I started when I was 11 years old. At the time I was staying at my school hostel. Every Wednesday we had to do an activity and I chose to go and watch Artistic Gymnastics at the Klerksdorp School of Gymnastics. I was sitting in the stands when Tatiana Lavrentchouk-Vizer (the Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach) and Suzie Herselman (the Club's Owner) asked me to come down to the floor. They gave me some basic stretches to do and then asked if I could start doing Rhythmic Gymnastics the next day.

Q. Where do you train and who is your coach?

A. I train at the Klerksdorp School of Gymnastics and Tatiana Lavrentchouk-Vizer is my coach. I've also been fortunate enough to train in the Ukraine a couple of times with Irina Deriugina - usually for a month at a time. It was quite an experience to work with someone like her and to train with Anna Bessonova and Natalia Godunko.  


Q. When did you realise that Rhythmic Gymnastics is something that you’re good at?

A. I realised when I started attending more competitions, especially International Competitions that I should stick to the sport and see where it could take me.


Q. What is your biggest achievement to date?

A. My biggest achievement was becoming the African Champion in 2014 and qualifying for the Commonwealth Games. Most recently it was being invited to take part in the 80th Anniversary of Rhythmic Gymnastics in St Petersburg. It was an incredible experience working with the other Rhythmic Gymnasts and Irina Viner.


Q. What do you still hope to achieve in your career as a Rhythmic Gymnast?

A. I would like to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games - that is what I'm working towards at the moment.


Q. What is your favourite apparatus?

A. My favourite apparatus would be the Clubs. The reason I like them is because it’s African and it’s something that I’m good at. 


Q. Who is your favourite Rhythmic Gymnast?

A. My favourite 'former' Rhythmic Gymnast would be Anna Bessonova from the Ukraine and my current favourite is Yana Kudryavtseva from Russia.


Q. What was the most interesting country you’ve competed in and why?

A. The first would be Scotland - the audience was very caring and cheered for everyone. The sightseeing was also very interesting. I also loved Sydney - it was a really good trip!


Q. What is always in your gym bag (i.e. what can you not live without when going to a competition?)

Luckily I'm not superstitious like that - so I have nothing special that I need to have with me. I pack all the necessary things - my apparatus, leotards, shoes etc. 


Q. Do you have some advice for girls doing Rhythmic Gymnastics?

For those that are doing Rhythmic Gymnastics - they should just do what they love to do - work hard and be passionate about what they do. The results will follow.
For the ones interested in the sport, join in and try it out. If you it,  love carry on and see where it takes you.



Watch Grace in action at the Moscow Grand Prix earlier this year: 


Photo Credit: Oleg Naumov and Dinasfoto 

Michelle Kleu
Michelle Kleu