Ayame van Beusekom competed in gymnastics at the international Olympic level before retiring from the sport at age 18.  Here she talks about what inspired her to keep going until injuries ended her athletic career, and the next step in building her future through education and setting life goals.  Live the adventure.

Marlana:  Here we are at North Head, and we are interviewing Ayame. So, where are you originally from?

Ayame: I am from New Zealand, but my parents are from Japan and Holand.

Sienna:  What do you think is cool about living in New Zealand?

Ayame: New Zealand is just like petty and chilled.

Marlana:  How did you start off in gymnastics?

Ayame:  We went to Japan for a holiday, and there were some bars, little metal bars, and I was doing cyclops with my cousins.  They couldn't do it.  But I was the only one that could do it.  And my mom was like, "Oh, when we get back lets put you in a gymnastics class."  Yeah, I just really enjoyed it, and then we had a general gym competition, so I was with all these other little five-year-olds, and we all didn't know what we were doing just having a good time, and I won my first gold medal.

Sienna:  How long have you been doing gymnastics?

Ayame:  For twelve years now. 

Sienna: What do you do when you get nervous about performing?

Ayame:  Tell yourself that you can do it, like, you have to have positive talk to yourself, especially before you compete.

Sienna:  What's your most memorable performance?

Ayame:  I really like Australia Nationals.  On the first day of competition, I did a double pike.  You Tumble across the diagonal, and you go twice in the air in a pike position, and I fully opened out and face planted on the floor, and it was, really embarrassing, and sad.  The next day all I wanted to do was land the skill.  Like I could land it in training, but the pressure sometimes gets to you.  Then the second day I landed it, and that was probably one of the best moments ever because I could finally like, redeem myself from that moment.  The videos were pretty good though, just that replay of me falling on my face.

Marlana:  So what was the real highlight moment for you?

Ayame:  One of my favorite moments is a release move called a Yeager.  It's like one of these big moves that I never thought I would be able to do and I only saw it like on TV and Olympians do it, and I was like, "I'll never be able to do that."  But I tried it, and within the first few days I was like almost close to missing it and close to catching it, and I was like, this far away from the bar and that moment where I finally went around the bar on the bar and I caught it and it was just like, awesome.

Sienna:  So if you could go back in time what would you say to your younger self?

Ayame: Oh, that's pretty tricky.

Sienna:  I got a few.

Ayame:  Yeah.  Just to like not be scared of stuff.  Compared to all the other girls at gym I think I'm a sort of a scaredy-cat.  Everyone else goes for skills, and they're not scared of stuff, but I'm more cautious like, what if I get hurt what if it goes wrong like "I don't want to do it!"  The thing is you just have to go for it, and you have to one hundred percent go for it, or you are going to hurt yourself.  And I want to tell my younger self that it's okay to be scared, but you should still go for things anyway.  You might have a really good outcome and don't believe you can't do something because you've seen it on TV, and you think you can't do it when you're younger but really if you try it you never know how it's going to turn out, and you might be good at it.  Always give it a go.   

Marlana:  So what is your greatest source of support?  

Ayame:  Definitely my family because they have to pay for it and they have to always put up with me and like being grumpy and tired from gymnastics, they have to feed me and come to pick me up.  Especially the transport.  They've had to give up a lot for it.  And then, my first set of teammates that I had from when I was little.  

Marlana:  What advice would you actually give?

Ayame:  Give it a go, it's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.  So if you keep going, keep pushing at it, even when you think you're not very good and you're not going to get anywhere if you keep working hard the results will come.  I never thought I would get to international or keep competing with other internationals at an Olympic level, but I made it as well so, they can do it if I can do it.

Marlana:  So what are you going to do with your future?  Like job?

Sienna:  The question all teenagers hate.

Ayame:  So gymnastics you can only do for a certain amount of time before you retire.  And I've got other dreams that are not gymnastics related as well.  So I am hoping to open up my own cafe or business promoting healthy eating and exercise, all that in this one big complex.  I've already started my own baking business, so before I was into healthy eating and stuff, I was into baking.  I started with an Instagram page, posted pictures of baking, and then, people started ordering and stuff.  Then I turned it into a website, so people can order off there.  I hope to expand on that and help with my business skills, so in the future that can be a starting point.  I'm going to AUT, studying International hospitality management.  

Sienna:  So what is something that keeps you strong when something is difficult?

Ayame:  Your time will come, and things will get better, so just knowing that keeps me going. You can do it.  It will pass.  I just always believed hard work is the key to everything.  It's the key to success and happiness.

Sienna:  Do you have any mottos or quotes that keep you going, special to you?

Ayame:  Yeah, I love quotes.  I have two favorite ones.  The first one is "Make it happen, "  and "You're never going to change the world trying to be like it."  So those are my two.

Marlana:  Yeah.

Ayame:  Thank you, guys.  You're capable of doing anything.

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Follow Ayame at:
Gymnastics commentary: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt8OU68KNONveDSTfomfCkw

Instagram baking:  https://www.instagram.com/ayamesbaking/

Baking Website:  https://ayamesbaking.weebly.com/products.html