What if it was your last day training at your gym?

Source: Andrew O’Connor

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that the Western Australian Government has decided to close down the elite gymnastics program in the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) later this year.

Over the years, this premier training centre has produced 9 Olympians, 10 Commonwealth Games representatives and several World Championship medalists. Both Allana Slater and Lauren Mitchell trained at WAIS and achieved outstanding results, winning World Championship medals. WAIS runs an extremely well maintained program with excellent support crew and facilities – providing gymnasts with weights training and even a recovery centre.

Closing down this centre will be devastating to many athletes and has already generated a lot of disappointment even though it hasn’t officially closed down yet. WAIS is only 1 of 2 elite training centres that are still up and running that cater for the women elite gymnasts in Australia. Soon, there will only be the Victorian Institute of Sports left for the elite gymnasts.

When WAIS closes down these elite gymnasts will have no choice but to end their Olympic pursuits or move down to Victoria to pursue their career if they wish to do so. However, this is no ideal situation for anyone as it will interrupt the gymnasts training regimes and force them to adapt to a different gymnastics environment with new coaches and athletes. Additionally, families will have to provide additional funding to cover new living arrangement expenses and travel costs.

This year the Australian female gymnasts suffered a huge setback where they did not qualify for the Rio Olympics. Now, closing down the WAIS is not a solution to this problem. I urge you all to do something before it’s too late. Let’s not make the lack of qualification become a tradition.

If you’d like to read more into this issue, check out this article!  

-DZ

Top 5 Women’s Artistic Gymnasts

Gymnastics boosts in popularity when Olympics kicks off. The gymnast’s athleticism mixed with their creative flair makes for an interesting viewing experience for millions of viewers at home. It is definitely one of the hardest sports due to its demanding nature. A combination of flexibility, strength, fitness, skill and artistry are all needed to compete at such exceptional levels.

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Down below is a list of female gymnasts that have acquired the most Olympic medals from 1992 to present day.

1. SIMONA AMANAR

How many medals did she win? She won 7 Olympic medals over the 2 Olympics she competed in.

What is she known for? Her air sense, quick twisting ability and solid landing made her a top competitor on vault and floor. Amanar was also an exceptional vaulter, and the Amanar vault is now named after her with gymnastics around the world still performing this very hard skill.

2. SVETLANA KHORKINA

How many medals did she win? Khorkina won 7 Olympic medals and competed internationally for more than 10 years.

What is she known for? She was the ‘Queen of bars’ and was a great inventor of unique skills on this apparatus. She has skills named after her on all of the other events too. Being a taller gymnast (1.65cm), she was able to come up with creative new skills that suited her body type.

3. SHANNON MILLER

How many medals did she win? Miller won 5 Olympic medals in the Barcelona Olympics and then 2 gold at the following Olympics

What is she known for? She is known as the most decorated US gymnast of all time and competed at her first World Championships when she was only 14 years old. From here on in she became a huge success, becoming a back to back world champion.

4. ALIYA MUSTAFINA

How many medals did she win? Over 2 Olympics Mustafina has won 2 gold and silver medals and 3 bronze ones.

What is she known for? She is known for her intensity during competitions – her facial expressions say it all. Mustafina is an extremely determined and dedicated individual. Tearing her ACL in the 2011 did not stop her from competing at the 2012 London Olympics, where she worked extremely hard post injury to claim 4 Olympic medals.

5. ALY RAISMAN

How many medals did she win? Raisman is a two-time Olympian who has won 6 Olympic medals.

What is she known for? Raisman is a fearless, world-class competitor that has been the team leader of the gold medal winning U.S. team at both Rio and London. After just missing out on a medal in the women’s all around event in 2012, she came back in 2016 to prove to herself that she could do better and came out winning an impressive silver medal.

-DZ

Why are the U.S. gymnasts so successful?

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Over the past couple of decades, America has been dominating the gymnastics scene by producing extraordinarily talented and world-renowned gymnasts. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the gymnasts in Australia. Some of you may be wondering why there are such marked differences?

Well, part of their success is due to the coherent gymnastic programs in place but the US team owes the other half of their success to the wide pool of resources, funding and commercial assistance they are provided with. Australia just cannot compete with US gymnastics due to geographical and population constraints. We only had one gymnast that qualified for Rio, as mentioned in my previous blog post. Australia is a nation that is isolated from the rest of the world which it makes it difficult to source the best equipment and coaches from other countries. Additionally, USA’s population size is around 40 times greater than Australia’s population, so the US have a much wider range of gymnasts to choose from.

America has a group of world-class coaches that we cannot compete against. Marta Karolyi, the head of USA gymnastics since 2001 has lead all 4 of her Women’s team to claim gold at the Olympics. On top of this, she has produced countless world class performers and champions too. Peggy Liddick – the Australian Head of Gymnastics has done a phenomenal job over the past few years developing and enhancing gymnastics here. Since her time as head coach, Australia was able to produce its first ever floor exercise champion, Lauren Mitchell at the 2010 World Gymnastics Championship.

Check out the table below to see the sheer differences between these two countries’ treatment of gymnastics

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From this table we can gather that Australian figures pale in comparison. The most significant figures are from the recent Olympic Games in Rio, where the US gymnasts attained 12 medals and Australia did not receive any. This is due to the fact that only one female Australian gymnast qualified to compete at Rio. So let’s get on board to increase awareness and participation levels of gymnastics within Australia!

-DZ

The current situation in the gymnastics world

It has been an emotional whirlwind for the Aussie elite gymnasts this past month! They thought they’d be competing in Rio this year but unfortunately they missed out on a spot in the Games and only placed in the test event. This was the first time in 30 years that Australia did not have a team compete in this event. Over the past several years, gymnastics has suffered due to a lack of support from government bodies as well as the general community. In the last year, The Australian Sports Commission invested a staggering 11 million dollars to swimming, 9 million to athletics and only 3 million are given to gymnastics.

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For the majority of elite gymnasts here in Australia, they have to fund themselves in terms of paying for training, transport and even physiotherapy. This is very costly and places a strain on families by supporting them on this rigorous journey. However, this is not the case for countries such as America, China and Russia who are currently dominating this sport and have been for decades.  These countries widely celebrate the sport and have very strong support networks in place.

If the lack of support around this sport continues, it is quite possible that gymnastics will continue to lose popularity and more Australians will continue to see a lack of Australian gymnasts competing at the Olympics. Wouldn’t it be upsetting to see absolutely no Australian gymnasts at the Tokyo Olympics?

But this campaign is completely changing this dire outlook. We will be exploring the current Australian gymnastics scene and drawing comparisons between other countries. Additionally, various physical and emotional benefits that the sport provides will be discussed. By increasing popularity of this sport, we will be able to encourage all Australians to go out and support or even participate in this spectacular sport.

-DZ

Welcome

Welcome to Gymnastics can take you anywhere, a campaign that aims to raise awareness of this unique sport amongst the Australian community. Many individuals lack little to no knowledge of gymnastics which is a little upsetting considering the blood, sweat and tears these gymnasts put into their training.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing all sorts of stories and events to do with gymnastics to provide you with a better insight into the sport! Additionally we will be providing tips on easy ways YOU can get involved!

To journey with us and make sure you don’t miss a thing – follow us on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

Check out the 3 phases we hope to implement:

Gymnastics can take you anywhere (2)

#twistingyourwayintoanewera

-DZ