Women on wheels

Belinda Gifford, Hannah Lines and Jenny Bailey. Photo: Sharnae Hope.

They’re three entirely different women with one common thread – a love of what they do.

Three Tauranga skaters of all different ages and skill-levels have qualified for the nation’s most prestigious meet, the NZ Artistic Roller Sports Championships.

The six-day competition runs from July 16-21 and is comprised of four grades including figures, dance, free and precision skating, bringing together some of the best skaters from the north, central and southern regions.

Tauranga Roller Skating Club’s Belinda Gifford, 42, Jenny Bailey, 49, and Hannah Lines, 9, are our local representatives.

Jenny has qualified for esquires’ figures and dance.

“I’m just hitting my second year of skating,” she says. “It’s been slow progress because being an adult, you don’t learn as fast as children do.

“Working while trying to get in practice time is another challenge, so getting to nationals is quite an achievement.”

She says she would like to come home with a medal.

“But a lot of what I’m looking forward to is just the comradeship between the skaters.”

Belinda is competing in masters’ figures and esquires’ dance.

“I started skating as a child, but stopped when I was about 16 and have picked it up again as an adult,” she says.

“I haven’t skated in more than 25 years, so it’s quite an accomplishment I’ve made it to nationals.”

She says picking up the sport again is like second nature.

“Within an hour or two, I was getting right back into it but I find it’s a lot harder on the body the older you get, especially falling to the ground.”

She’s another one aiming for the podium.

“I’ve never competed in dance before - that’s not something I learnt as a kid, but I’m feeling pretty confident about it.”

Hannah, the youngest of the skaters, will be skating in the tiny tots’ figures and free grades.

Her mother, Steph Lines, says she’s been skating for more than 16 months with up to five training sessions a week.

“We’re obvious really proud of her, but it’s not all Hannah,” says Steph. “We owe a lot of credit to the club’s trainer, Michelle Webb.

“She took Hannah from being just some kid on roller skates to being competition ready. She’s really taken her under her wing.”

Steph says this is one of Hannah’s biggest achievements.

“We’re really happy she’s found a sport she loves and she’s doing so well.”