Grace Legote, 23, started rhythmic gymnastics training with her current coach, Tatiana Lavrentchouk Vizer, at the age of 11.
The hardest lesson I ever learned is that “teachability is humility”. It was about five years later than competitive rhythmic gymnasts usually start, but the combination of Legote’s naturally supple muscles, lean physique and talent with balls, ribbons, clubs and hoops made her unstoppable.
“From the beginning it was all about having fun. When I first represented my country, that is when I realised that I might actually be good at this.” That was in 2009, at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Japan.
She has since competed in three more championships and been the highest-ranking African at every one. Legote, who hails from Delareyville in North West province, has competed around the world, from Uzbekistan to Australia.
In 2014, the same year she placed 10th overall in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, she also won the Rhythmic Gymnastics Africa Championships.
Another career highlight was participating in the Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation’s 80th anniversary at the Mariinsky Theatre of St Petersburg.
Legote, who is studying towards a degree in sports management, believes it takes more than just natural grace to get as far as she has in her rhythmic gymnastics career, it also takes grit, a reluctance to quit and training every day.
Find Grace on Twitter: @GraceLegote