Speed Skating Record Holder Raises Funds at Timaru Mid-Winter Christmas Market
AIMAN AMERUL MUNER / Stuff
Gemma Karlyn Thornley, 9, makes balloons at the Mid-Winter Christmas Market in Timaru on Saturday. Gemma is fundraising for her trip to the 2023 National Speed Skating Championships.
Record speed skater Gemma Karlyn Thornley’s fundraiser for the New Zealand Road and Flat Track Championships took off, holding its first market stall on Saturday.
Nine-year-old Gemma’s stall was one of 60 at the Timaru Artisan Farmers Market mid-winter Christmas market where she twisted flower balloons, dogs and swords to raise money for her ticket to the championships staged in Palmerston North early next year.
Timaru Artisan Farmers Market manager Andrea Hutton estimated around 2,000 people passed through George St on Saturday morning, looking through artisan stalls and grabbing something to eat.
Gemma’s mother, Susan Thornley, said her daughter “really enjoyed her day selling the balloons” and hopes to attend a few more market days.
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“It was really good, it was good to see a lot of support for Gemma [at the markets],” she says.
Gemma started speed skating at the age of 6 when her mother took her to the Caroline Bay rink.
She now holds the record for the fastest time in the 200-metre double time trial in the main category, which she broke at the 2022 banked track championships in Hamilton.
“She was very proud of herself.
“I was a very proud mum, she trained very hard, worked very hard and got great results,” Thornley said of Gemma’s success.
Gemma trains three times a week, splitting her time between the Caroline Bay rink and Levels Raceway for long distance training, and will compete in a mix of “time runs, sprints and a few longer races” during national competition next year.
“She is very excited to go to the nationals and to go with her skater friends.
“Skating is a great sport to be a part of here at South Canterbury.”
Thornley said the South Canterbury Roller Sports Club, of which Gemma is a part, will be hosting a pyjama-themed disco to raise money for the championships on August 12.
She said more than 20 for the club will take part in the championships.
Saturday’s mid-winter Christmas market had stallholders from South Canterbury, Oamaru and Ashburton, Hutton said.
“We were really happy there were so many vendors and so many people came out and supported the market,” Hutton said.
The Saturday morning market takes place weekly and usually has around 35 stalls, and Hutton hopes the mid-winter Christmas market will entice more people to attend regularly.
To accommodate all the stalls, George St was closed on Saturday morning, she said.
“There was a huge selection of food choices,” Hutton said.
After a week of wet weather, Hutton said Saturday’s beautiful day was a positive as “good weather makes for a good market”.