Millie Burton enjoyed a satisfactory medal haul as part of the all-conquering Tauranga Intermediate School team that easily dominated the medal count at the gymnastics section of this week's highly successful NZCT AIMS Games.
The 12-year-old won a gold and silver medal in the teams events and then picked up a silver and bronze in the individual artistic exercises held at ARGOS GymSports yesterday.
The tough competition she faced from competitors from all over New Zealand was the perfect preparation for the National Gymnastics Championships to be held in Blenheim in early October.
Last year she was placed third in the floor exercise, which was the catalyst for her to decide to take gymnastics more seriously.
"AIMS was very important because it was like a mock competition and tested your ability to be really focused, to be under pressure for a certain amount of time, and it was really helpful to preparing you for the nationals," Millie said.
"It is pretty cool competing at AIMS because you get to see where the others are at, as most of the people I have competed against are people who I have seen before at other competitions. It is cool to see what school they go to because I represent Bay of Plenty at the nationals."
Artistic gymnastics is the version of the sport that is a consistently high ratings winner at events like the Olympics. It involves competing in numerous strength and agility exercises.
Millie has a special favourite that is her signature event.
"I love the floor exercise because I am a dancer so it helps to be able to move and tumble.
"I just recently gave up ballet for gymnastics because I want to get seriously into gym. The ballet and dance helps a lot with my routines.
"But it can be scary at times, especially the beam which is not my favourite.
"The key to dealing with fear is you just have to get over it.
"You have to think of the positives and think about what happens when you get it, because the more you nail it the less you will be scared."
American Aly Raisman is the gymnast Millie most aspires to be like, because of her courage and what she has been through. If Millie continues to improve at the rate she has been, then perhaps one day she too may compete at the Olympics.
Pam Walters, Millie's coach for three years, says the performance side of her is a special quality.
"Millie is really good at pulling it off on the day and performing to a high standard when needed," Walters said. "With her dance background she is very committed, dedicated and is a very hard worker, which is all you want as a coach.
"She is also a good all-rounder but really shines on the floor, where her dance comes through and she can show it off.
"We are hoping for another top placing for her at the nationals."