Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Baked Goods & Baskets & Broom Cupboards, Oh My!

A lot of sh*t is being kicked about now on the message boards in the wake of Sims' retirement and in the tense build-up to Nationals (next week... IT'S NEXT WEEK, PEOPLE! Quick, somebody fetch my maid lest I have to squeeze my womanly bodice into fashionable attire unaided).

So, basically, some people are saying that Sims is the latest casualty of a poorly-maintained system. They're saying that she's the first of what could be many departures, and that the remaining girls will make up a shabby Olympic team. Just two years ago we had shining prospects like Chloe, Hollie Dykes, Monette Russo, Monique Blount and Melody Hernandez looking to push through for Beijing and head an impressive(not to mention quite populated) women's squad. But they've all up and left for their various reasons and the women's program is a sad sight for it. Not a total write-off, of course. It's just frustrating that we've got just two world-class performers and a bunch of potential also-rans.

Anyway. I don't want to feed into the "we're going to suck - no we're not" argument. I don't want to re-hash the ways in which Gymnastics Australia could shake up the program and make the athletes feel worthwhile. See my earlier entries for all that stuff. I just found myself thinking of solutions - some high-falootin', some just plain smart and simple - to the laments about Team Australia in this nervous Olympic wait.

1. Gymnastics Australia will cite that they don't have funding to get Nationals or trials or any other event shown on tv. Advertising for the sport overall suffers a similar fate. Fine. I might just hold a cake stall and raise the necessary money. Personally. Come one, come all to purchase baked goods to raise funds for gymnastics promotions in Australia. For heaven's sake, it's got to be more entertaining to watch than Big Brother/My Kid's a Star/any midday telemovie on every day of the week about domestic violence. Sure, a lot of funds at the moment could go towards Burma or China but no doubt a gym-related cake and refreshment stall could get happening after the Olympics. Think about it. Pink and purple iced cupcakes (free poofy white scrunchie for the first 100 customers). You could have Monette Meringue. Trudy Truffles. Peggy's Peanut Butter Cups. Hollie Hedgehog. Or Allana Banana Muffins! The list is endless! My specialty? Lemon slice. Way more zesty than a petition, wouldn'tcha think?

2. The gymnasts don't feel validated by anyone outside of their immediate training circle/family. Cue me tavelling across Victoria and interstate leaving wicker baskets on the doorsteps of gymnasts' homes with a tray of lemon slice, a smiley face badge and a note saying "Hi. Your fans acknowledge that you work very hard, even if the media doesn't. You're a healthy, well-adjusted, inspirational individual who deserves every bit of attention in the months prior to and after the Olympics. All the best, Gymnastics Fans of Australia". I'm like Santa, only without the animal cruelty and Coca-Cola sponsorship.

3. Peggy Liddick appears to have a stranglehold on the girls; nerves, melancholy and injuries start to seep in. Well, that's my signal to tackle the national head coach rugby-style (my frumpy figure belies years of skilled sibling warfare) and lock her in the equipment cupboard, allowing for a seamless takeover of the program by Martine George/Liz Chetkovich/John Hart.

4. Gym doesn't get featured enough in the newspapers. I'm considering submitting articles about competitions under sensationalist headlines. That'll get us printed. Something along the lines of, "Olympic hopeful saves family from burning building; wins national championship".

5. We're kept in the dark about the goings on at camp, athlete progress in general and planned events on a national scale. The GA webpage usually has more information for technical members or affiliates than for enthusiasts. Here's an idea. I can forward them the names of half a dozen or more people who are consistently on the ball in the gym scene (not including myself of course) and who I'm sure would do a better job whipping up an accredited for-fans-by-fans website (with athlete contribution as well, perhaps) than anything GA is faffing about with. I could see it now - squad members contribute diary entries from training camps or competitions. A "Happy Birthday to (elite gymnast)" link with fun facts about them. A photo board. Coach profiles, tips and/or blogs. I mean, the USA have got a media and technology company monitoring their squad's national training camp and getting word out, it's such a shame we can't say the same thing.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Mez - you always put a morning smile onmy face,

i agree with you on 1 and 4 - there has to be alot more media attention given to this sport. Their was a magazine started a little while ago but they were Victoria based and did not open the market enough and so failed which is a shame as i think their really needs to be a magazine or at least an online magazine even if it's for all gym sports but it would need to go Nationwide.
No 2 - i think there tends to be too much inter club rivalry with clubs that train elite - when you train at an institute based centre the focus is on a long term goal but i think alot of clubs are more interested in the here and now as their results will reflect the so called "success" of the club. The HPC did those Leaping towards Beijing Tshirts to support ALL Victorian gymnasts and all the HPC girls wear them to trials but not many girls from Waverley and MLC wear them and they have their girls names on the back - if the HPC are happy to show their support why aren't the other clubs coming together with a common goal to support Victoria.
3. Peggy is the "overseer" there are probably politics behind every decision made that we do not see and just because some one is a good coach does not meet they will be a good national program director - a coach should do that - just coach and then work with the national coach to take the best teams. Martine is a great coach and i would prefer to see her coaching rather than caught up in the beaurocracy but coaches like John need to prove themselves over a long period of time not just because he happens to have 3 girls vying for the team at the one time.

A gymnast who has worked hard for the olympics and is almost there will not give up because Peggy is a bit tough - it's a tough sports you need to have a thick skin - it's up to their coaches to put it into perspective for them

mistysakura said...

We should make a nice banner for Nationals. But no lemon-slice stalking, hehe. I agree that an accredited for-fans-by-fans website would be great. Perhaps the website could even be made before we seeked accreditation... but then GA's opening the door for affiliation with fan sites, which I'm sure they don't want to do. I guess they could make it clear there's one and only one official fansite.

But the reasons for gymnasts quitting are so complicated, public support alone won't do the trick...

Mez said...

I like the idea of a banner! Truly, I do!

I hope to whip up a short article about Nationals and submit it to International Gymnast because I'm pretty sure they still have that "submit an article" tab on their site.

Every little bit helps.