Local sports stars go for gold
THE countdown is on.
There are just 28 days until the 2010 Commonwealth Games get under way in Delhi and the time has come to assess the chances of Northern Rivers athletes who will be competing.
By The Northern Star's count there are three locals who will be competing in the games to challenge for gold medals.
And by The Northern Star's reckoning, their chances are golden.
Lismore born, Evans Head-reared Ryan Cuskelly plans to be among the medals in squash.
Cuskelly will team up with Yamba's Cameron Pilley in the doubles, and after troubling England's world number one pair – Nick Mathew and Adrian Grant – in a tournament in Manchester three months ago they are quietly confident.
The bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games warm-up tournament sent the boys back to Australia full of hope that they could improve.
Papua New Guinean netballer Cheryl Renagi, who has grown up in Lismore, will be playing for her native country against the heavyweight Australia and New Zealand teams.
PNG is ranked 13th worldwide by the International Federation of Netball Associations but is a team on the rise.
But the Northern Rivers' best hope for gold comes in rhythmic gymnast Naazmi Johnston.
The Lismore-born 21-year-old is still at the top of her game at an age when most have given the sport away.
Having appeared at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and the Beijing Olympics, Johnston has an edge over her rivals.
Her coach, Sydney Olympian Danielle LeRay, has gone public with her confidence.
Her charge is easily the highest ranked individual gymnast from all Commonwealth countries.
LeRay has set Johnston a task of winning six gold medals – five individual and one team. It's a big ask, but the confidence coming out of the camp is undeniable.
Notable omissions from the Australian team are Lismore swimmer Adam Pine and former SCU rugby ‘gold rat' Henry Vanderglas.