This is the 100th post on this blog, and is fittingly coupled with other celebratory news- the announcement of the Olympic training squad named from the National Apparatus Challenge today.
The event winners got giant novelty cheques which were a bit of a hoot to see; the athletes didn't seem to know what to do with them. Dasha J was the big winner, cashing in on victories on vault/bars/floor. Phil Rizzo had a welcome return to form with a win on high bar (sans Tak to def release). He did some excited fist-pumping and rock star air guitar after his dismount, further endearing him to the crowd. Lots of fumbles and BIG scary-looking splats from the men on floor (but a stuck double-layout from Josh J wowed the crowd). Once again, pommel proved to be their Achilles heel and we didn't have the usual Prashanth performance to lift everyone's spirits (but he was there to present pommel awards). Our designated Olympic MAG rep, Sam Simpson, showed some good releases on high bar but was still shaky in other places.
But the women were the real stars of the event. Dasha was again the classy performer, with Emma Dennis and Ash Brennan again proving they deserve their squad spots with some gorgeous floor work. Emma's choreographer is to be commended for what is an enchanting Eastern-themed routine that suits her well. It should also be noted that Em unveiled a Yurchenko double today! Shona Morgan had some fumbles which were a shame to see, as she'd done so well in the other days of competition. Lauren Mitchell stuck her piked double arabian ("at last!" I said into the video camera) but then stepped OOB on her tucked one. She can't seem to catch enough of a break. She won beam and improved on bars, getting a lot of vocal encouragement from her WA teammates in the process. G-Bo had a great beam set (the highlight is a dainty Onodi and a gutsy Rulfova) despite a stumble. Queensland's Amber Fulljames is a little pocket rocket and, let's face it, a cutie pie. She could, by all accounts, get away with murder. She's only 16 but looks about 12. The team flocked around her and hugged her and congratulated her, P-Liddy particularly taking time to consult her. She's a star of the future for sure.
The Graham Kennedy Award for Most Comedic Moment: An hour before the comp, as the girls were warming up, the dulcet tones of one Mr Ade Foster informed the early spectators: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the next fifty minutes of ad-free music will be brought to you by Olivia Vivian". It was perplexing but I assume Livvy had hooked her iPod or similar device up to the arena's speakers. Bon Jovi pumped out, followed by Queen, giving Dasha - who was warming up on beam at the time - a massive fit of the giggles and she couldn't continue. So cute.
The Fresh-Faced Home and Away Star Award for Best New Talent: Amber "playin' with the big girls" Fulljames who had some dynamic tumbling and neat execution for such a tiny thing. Keep one eye on her and another on Natalia Joura.
The Why is Richard Wilkins Still Here? Award for WTF!?ness: Our Beijing rhythmic gymnastics rep Naazmi Johnston performed for the crowd, which was nice. She has amazing flexibility in both her rope and ribbon routines. But one couldn't help but notice that for the opening 45-or-so seconds of what we assume is the ribbon routine she'll be doing at the Olympics, she didn't go anywhere near the ribbon. It lay on the floor some metres away while she danced an elegant dance, apparatus-less. Are they even allowed to DO that...?
The Hugh Jackman Not So Up Ourselves That We Reject Our Roots Award for Retirees: Allana Slater, Joanna Hughes, Brooke Walker, Steph Moorhouse, Netty Russo for presenting awards.
The Marlon Brando Sorry I Couldn't Be Here to Accept This Award for Absenteeism: Beijing-bound trampolinist Ben Wilden, who couldn't wave to the crowd at the end due to the unavoidable fact of him being at an overseas competition.
Hope you all enjoyed Nationals as much as I did (though hopefully you didn't have a schoolkid repeatedly kicking your chair).
On a personal note, thanks everyone for stickin' with me for nearly 6 months now.
I know I waffle on a bit so 100 isn't too much of an achievement I suppose :P
Here's to 100 more!