Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Little Love for Liz

Perth WAG coach and Voice of All That is Worldly And Good, Liz Chetkovich, gets a small mention in the publication All Piss and Wind which is probably best described as an almanac of sports commentary in Australia, currently available in most good bookshops. Former co-commentator Sandy Roberts, whom we most recently remember taking the mike at the 2005 World Championships, commends her for her informative style, not to mention her efforts in a sport that is relatively unrecognised in this country.

So there ya go. Some kudos where it's due!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Parades A-Plenty

A few photos have surfaced of our Olympic gymnasts at Welcome Home parades in their home states. I'll bet they had a wonderful time.

Conflict of Interest Much?

Hm... this could yield some interesting results.

Great Britain's Kayleigh Cooke has joined the ranks of the WAIS, alongside Dasha Joura and Lauren Mitchell, as her family has left Britain for a big move to the West. But for the moment, she's stuck playing the waiting game...

Thanks to special agent Riss for the article heads-up:
WAIS has gained the services of another high calibre gymnast, with international Kayleigh Cooke migrating to Australia from Britain.

The 17 year old is waiting to hear how long it will take her to become eligible to represent Australia after travelling to Beijing as Olympic reserve of the British womens artistic team.

Cooke has competed for Britain in World Cup and European competition but has never represented her birth country at the Olympics and world championships, which would have held back her chances of representing Australia.

The Cooke family were granted Australian residence late last year but Kayleigh and her father remained in England to enable her to pursue her Olympic dream.

She spent some time with her mother in Perth in December, during which time she trained alongside Dasha Joura, Lauren Mitchell and Olivia Vivian at WAIS.

But with her Olympic campaign now out of the way the family have been reunited and she is ready to settle into a new routine training alongside her new WAIS teammates.

WAIS head of gymnastics Liz Chetkovich said Cooke ould be a great addition to the program.

"We beat Britain at the Olympics with our sixth place in the team competition, but they beat us at the last World Championships," Chetkovich said.

"Cooke's skills are on par with Joura on the floor and she is Australia's best on that apparatus, and is as strong as Mitchell with her vaulting."

Chetkovich said there was some chance Cooke might be available to represent Australia at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2012 London Olympics, but that would depend on international eligibility rules and meeting citizenship criteria.

Australia's Olympic team of six included three West Australians- Joura, who was born in Russia, Mitchell and Vivian, an uneven bars specialist.

2010 Commonwealth Games will probably be really tough emotion-wise (not to mention Worlds next year, if she manages to get the ok to represent Australia, IN her former home country and competing AGAINST her former home country! And let's not forget the 2012 Olympics!) but I'm sure she has received a very enthusiastic welcome up in Perth regardless. Dasha, at the very least, can help her adjust to new surrounds because she knows what it's like!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Give it Up For Dangerous Dave

Just want to give a little shout-out to an old mate of mine. A fellow who, truly, can be considered a one-man team.

David Morris, originally of Park Orchards here in Melbourne, is currently the only male in the Olympic aerial skiing program (and the first in about 10 years). He has several medals to his name (including one from a recent World up) and he is aiming for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games after a career in gymnastics, both competing and coaching at the Nunawading Gymnastics and Sports Club. Dave spearheaded the men's team that, on a lot of occasions, could be seen as playing second-fiddle to the growing women's team. But you can't say he didn't stand out on his own in spite of that. He was renowned for his twists and flips, and was never far from the tumbling mat, vault runway or double-mini-tramp. He was never afraid and never backed down from a challenge. I can recall myself yelling "Nooo!" on more than one occasion, as he did a Make-'Em-Laugh-sequence-of-Singin-in-the-Rain-style run and flip up a wall, or attempted a flip with a ridiculous number of twists over a stack of spotting boxes.

Away from the acrobatics, I know Dave to be a lovely person. He is always positive, joking and genuine. Dave has a very encouraging family as well, all nice people, and I'm sure they'll be cheering for him like crazy if (nay, WHEN) his big chance comes in two years' time. Dave is living proof that you can achieve the very best if you work hard, and that gymnastics is a fantastic foundation for any sport. It doesn't all end for you if you choose to walk away from the mat.

So get behind the one-man aerial skiing team and give a cheer for 'Dangerous Dave'!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's Not a One-Woman Team But...

Some people requested Dasha's routines from The-You-Know-What-Competition-in-You-Know-Where.

So here is "Part 1" with most of the walking-around-packing-her-bag-waiting-for-score stuff cut out because it constituted the bulk of the coverage and is pretty dull to sit through!

Here is "Part 2", containing her beam routine (don't watch if you're easily heart-broken, depressed or inclined to hug people in need, even if they're total strangers) and Yum Cha interview with one of the Daddo brothers that isn't the one that hosted the pirate show... Sleepy? Dopey? I 'unno, those things are as rampant as Weasley children...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Take a Ride in the LeoTARDIS

Inspired by The Couch Gymnast's entertaining last entry, I felt compelled (read, 'short of anything more worthwhile to do') to knock up a fashion-timeline entry of my own.

Australia has had its fair share of good, bad, and particularly ugly leotards that we have celebrated and spurned as our gymnastics program has flourished at home and overseas. Here are just a few memorable (and some rather forgettable) pieces from the Team Australia wardrobe.

1988: Trudi Nurse sports a leotard that (thankfully) we didn't see a great deal of in the future. It's the kind of leotard my mum would compliment with the same remark she made the time I dyed my hair a vibrant red some years ago. "Er...it's a bit bright!"

1992: Nuthin' says style like a coloured animal on yer bodice, Julie-Anne Monico...

1996: ...Just ask Ruth Moniz.

1995: The usually divine Zeena makes a slight fashion faux pas.

1998: Trudy and the team won the Commonwealth Games title in a vibrant pink
'genie smoke' leotard. And so the reign of pink began.

1999: You'd be annoyed, too, if you had to wear pink lycra all the time.

1999: A slight deviation from the pink - purple!

2001: One of my favourites, a simple blue number for the Worlds team.

2002: Not everyone could pull off black the way Miss Slater could.

2002: Another pink-clad Commonwealth Games team (but, to their credit, they did have a green leo for the final!)

2003: Monette made the Worlds beam final in a design that could best be described as 'Barbie Campervan'.

2004: By this point, we didn't know if it was P-Liddy or the girls enforcing the excessive amounts of pink and purple. Purple also featured (with black) in the All-Around final leotard on Allana and Steph Moorhouse. For the team final, once again, the girls cracked out some green.

2005: Where the interesting combination of pink-on-purple/dark blue debuted...

2006: ...And unfortunately warranted a reappearance.

2006: The Melbourne Commonwealth Games came and went with strains of green-and-gold patriotism and, of course, more pink and purple.

2007-present. Unique newer additions to the Australian wardrobe have included red with diamantes, purple-ribbon-on-white, black-ribbon-on-white and blue-waves-on-white. But the green-and-gold CWG leotard proved quite popular with the crowds and with gymfans, so it was adapted (and adopted!) for members of the national squad. We have since seen green and gold at national competitions, World Cup competitons and, most recently, the Beijing Olympics.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gym News Nuggets

So what's the 'haps' with the Olympic team, you may ask? Well:

- It's already been said that the Victorian girls were at the athlete 'welcome home' parade earlier today.
- Over the weekend, Shona and Georgia presented medals at the Waverley Invitational and, along with Emma Dennis, they have a month of cross-training to look forward to with various clubmates.
- Dasha and Lauren also did some medal presenting of their own, at the International Levels Challenge up in Perth. They also cheered on fellow WA competitors who participated in the Australian levels teams.
- And, as we've established, Olivia is starting her training with Oregon's NCAA gymnastics team.

I can bet the girls are grateful for any time they can get that isn't spent in a competition leo or a trackie. Best of luck to all of them as one competition season winds down and another starts up.

I also came across some interesting shots of the Beijing team that you may not have seen before...

The first lot (badly re-sized and edited by me in Paint, sorry) are from when the team was first named in Canberra. Olivia and Ash look lovely and sunny, sadly the others look a bit bored, or like they're attempting wistful glances (with not much success). I love these girls but hate that they get asked to adopt poncey poses!

And the following are from Beijing...

(thank heavens that was just a vault drill!)


No athlete parade for me. I'm as sick as a dog.


The last thing I want is to infect anybody, especially our athletes, so it's best I keep at a distance from...well, everyone really. Timing: it's a foul mistress. I remember was sick at the 2005 Australia vs China event as well so I never got to get near the front of the crowd after the event and take photos of the gymnasts with their fans. *sigh*

Whoever does manage to attend today and fend off a million screaming children to get near the front, do please give a big extra wave to our gym girlies fom yours truly. I welcome any photos or reports from the event.

ETA: Channel 7 broadcasted the event, I caught some as I came home from the doctor's office. I spotted Ashleigh and Shona standing with the other athletes in Fed Square; if Georgia was there next to them, she would have been just out of frame.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fall Practice... Hope That's Not Portentous

Olivia Vivian 'reported for duty' last week, fronting up for the first practise session of the NCAA season with Oregon State University's Beavers. She is listed on the team's roster as an AA competitor so far, but I think given her reputation as a bars specialist, that may not hold.

I am yet to find word on how Monique Blount is faring at George Washington University.

Monday, September 15, 2008

YouTube: Thorpey Reckons It's Fully Sick

1. If this doesn't make you smile after a hard day, then you are a COLD-HEARTED HATER OF KITTENS AND PUPPIES.

2. The Team (B)ambi support vehicle does not condone Miley Cyrus blaring from its loudspeakers. It does, however, partake in spreading similar good word of the Queensland dynamo.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

As Busy As... Well, Bourke Street!

Victorians can cheer on our returned Olympians this Wednesday at a parade along Swanston Street that ends up in Federation Square.

Give 'em a smile and a wave for me, and if you can manage a "Go You Big Red Fire Engine!" too, I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Small World, Innit?

I discovered this morning that I go to the same orthodontist as one of our Olympic team members.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quick News

1. If you have access to Foxtel/Austar, put your TV on the Arena channel NOW (10:15am) because Shawn Johnson is going to be on Ellen. If you miss it, the show will be repeated at Noon on Arena+2. Then, at around 11:15, pop it on the W channel to see Nastia Liukin appear on The View. It's quite a gym-tastic day today!

ETA - I believe both shows will also air on Channel 9 from Noon so you'll get double the gym in the one day!

2. Monday 15th September is the parade of Olympic athletes in Sydney; Sunrise and The Morning Show (ch 7) will have official coverage.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I Don't Get It

Sorry, this is fairly unrelated to this blog's central content. But I'm right ticked off, your Honour.

Only one sports report I saw this morning (that of 7's Sunrise) bothered to mention our Paralympic Games gold medal wins first up. It was, of course, rugby-AFL-motorsport first elsewhere.

Matthew Cowdrey, inspiring young swimmer with a congenital amputation, is a good medal chance in Beijing. At the Athens Paralympic Games, he won a phenomenal 3 gold medals, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes. Surely one of the most (if not THE most) decorated athlete in the pool behind Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe.

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games, he was the most successful of ALL our male swimmers (able-bodied or disabled) winning 2 gold medals, both in world record time. And yet we're going to hear about Stephanie Rice for the next 4 years. *sigh* Not that three gold medals is something to be sniffed at entirely. But why are able-bodied athletes always the first to come to mind when we reflect on sporting achievement? Why are they the first on the motivational speaking circuits, the cereal boxes, the underwear ads, the reality show 'guest judge' seats?
There was another young swimmer profiled last night, Sam Bramham, who made great efforts in the pool alongside Cowdrey. He is apparently the 'joker' of the team, the morale booster and one-man cheer squad. What a cheeky young thing. Yet when sports profile shows come around, it's quirky Libby Trickett and daggy-dancing Grant Hackett who get all the air time.

Last night's basketball match, in which Australia beat Brazil by one point(!) with a clinch goal in the last 5 seconds(!) was more exciting than anything I watched at the Olympics last month. It was a mammoth effort and Australia came from behind to make a specacular win. But I didn't hear about it in the news this morning.

It's not entirely fair, is it? The opening ceremony of the Paralympics got a half-page picture and short detail in the Herald Sun yesterday. The 'real Olympics' received multiple pages of coverage. Including a daily liftout. If our Paralympic team manages a better medal tally than our Olympic team, and with three gold medals on the first day alone, our chances look good, it will be a shame not to hear about it.

Just because the personal circumstances are a little different doesn't make them any less of an athlete or an inspiration.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Gator Gone?

I don't know much about the NCAA system but I am sure, at the very least, that athletes compete for more than one year.

The girl in the back right corner of linked photo looks a tad like the recent Aussie recruit but according to the caption it's Ashley Kerr. So...

Where's Lynn Denblyden?

ETA: I was informed by a source this morning that Lynn came back to Australia in Winter and returned to the States on August 18th. Whether she returns to the gymnastics floor or just continues with her studies, we wish her the absolute best in all she pursues!

Seriously? Seriously.

Gotta give some kudos to NBC, America's big sombrero of broadcasting. That's right. A big ol' hat. See what I did there? Metaphor. Or something.

But yes. Their web feeds of gymnastics during That Large Sporting Event Held In a Nondecript Asian Location Just Last Month were phenomenal. Particularly during qualification rounds. The camera, literally, just kept rolling throughout the rotations. You saw march-ins and march-outs. You saw a gymnast dismount from the podium and celebrate with their coach after actually dismounting the apparatus. You saw every routine and the team being presented to the judges. You'd see them packing and unpacking their stuff and watching their team-mates. To me, this shows a team's true nature beyond what they do on the podium. It's camaraderie. It's preparation. It's non-diegetic [in a sense] information that adds to their performance.

Check out the resource I linked in the previous post and get your hands on extended team prelims and finals coverage. You'll catch such highlights as-

* Olivia musing "good one, [a] bewdy!" after Georgia's bars in prelims
* Lauren encouraging teammates as they mount various apparatus by telling them to treat the routine "like normal"
* Georgia does indeed get called "G-Bo" as she prepares for floor in the team final. Damn, and I thought I was so clever making that up!
* ShoMo and G-Bo prelims banter:
(Georgia has just finished beam, performing second after Shona in the lineup)
G: (puffing) "[You got a ] Great...beam score."
S: "(distracted as Ashleigh prepares) "What?"
G: "Reeeally good beam score."
S: "Me?"
G: "You, yeah."
S: "What was it?"
G: "15-3...something."
S: (pleasantly surprised yet hinting at how chuffed she truly is) "...nice."

* The arena announcer completely butchering every European name over the loudspeaker. Just listen to the huge pause between 'Ekaterina' and 'Kramarenko' that comes after Ashleigh's beam. Yet another reason to give one Mr Ade Foster the top job
* Dasha clapping and praising all her teammates in all the warm-ups, what a team player. Her beam is just the most gut-wrenching thing to watch. Her ankle must be so sore, and she waters so much down because of it (a split leap, her dismount... a front aerial taken too short nearly sees her topple but it's the ensuing side somi that clinches it). The poor thing. I hadn't seen the routine in full until now. She grins and bears it before her Shushunova jump but you can just tell it's hurting and she's panicking slightly. She breaks into tears the moment she lands her dismount, it's the saddest salute I've ever seen (save for Zamo's in the team final at Stuttgart last year). In the team huddle afterwards, P-Liddy tells them that the team will finish where they will finish, they will have to wait and see as there is one session to go. Lauren pipes up cheerily something about a "disaster" which I assume was prefaced with "any team could have a..." and then there is a chiding "LOOOR-enn!" from our head coach.
* In a happier moment, look for Lauren getting a quick photo in front of the beam in the team final; this is actually viewable in the BBC coverage (don't know about NBC just yet). Martine and the physio let her have her hugs after her routine, then grab her and whip her in front of the beam brandishing a camera, she laughs and smiles a little foolishly but also with a sense of pride and achievement. It's a very very brief moment that *I think* I left in for my montage (*coughcheckitoutinthepreviouspostifyouhaven'talreadycough*)

Have I mentioned how much I loved this team and they way they gelled!?

Friday, September 5, 2008


Here 'tis.

Just keep it on the down-low *touches nose*. The Powers That Be are still suspending some accounts flor flouting certain broadcasting laws. But if you ask me, we DESERVE to see the routines we missed out on!

Apologies for the distinct lack of beam or vault. Bars and floor footage took an eon to download, I couldn't handle much more waiting! I had to go with brief 'Yum Cha' footage, would you believe!

If you wish to see more footage (including extended high-definition footage) from finals and preliminaries, check out this link. Again, keep it under your hats.

You will have to register to use the forum, but there is a wealth of footage that some very kind people provide for others to view, and you can contribute your own if you wish. There be treasure in them thar discussion threads!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Champs' Chops (Acting Chops, That Is)

It has been revealed this week that USA golden girls Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson will each get cameo appearances on their favourite TV programs. Liukin is headed to Gossip Girl, while Shawn will soon pop up in The Secret Life of an American Teenager.

Interestingly enough, these two girls have been approached by the producers of the respective programs, having simply mentioned the shows as guilty pleasures in interviews. As one forum poster has remarked:
I find it amazing that all they had to do was mention their favorite shows in an interview, and the shows immediately called them up about making guest appearances.

On an unrelated note, I would like to take this moment to express my complete and utter adoration for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

...is that my phone ringing?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A New Season, A New Tune


It was revealed just prior to the Olympics that one Lady Dasha Joura-Sassington-Funk would be getting a new floor routine after the Games. As she is a probable World Cup candidate for the comps going on until the end of the year (unless P-Liddy lets her rest and the Victorian girlies finally get some funding to go) and is likely to be back on the floor in the coming months (GlasgowGlasgowGlasgowGlasgowGlasgow *fingers crossed*) this may not manifest itself until the new year.

But that aside, here are some thoughts I had about new music for the exciting Miss D. They're allcurrently on my iPod. Call me insane, call me un-musical, call me what you will.

The theme from Hot Fuzz. Best making-a-strutty-slow-motion-entrance piece EVAH.

A La Turk by the Counterfeit Gypsies. I just... I love them. I really do.

Sabotage, cover of the Beastie Boys hit by Aussie string quartet Fourplay. Here it is live on Spicks and Specks, sped up slightly and unfortunately cut a bit short. Look up their album "Catgut Ya Tongue?" for the full version. It would make for an interesting, disjointed, postmodern, 'discordant' floor routine.

Diablo Rojo by mind-blowing Mexican [by way of Ireland] duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. Gosh, they're good! Once again, the album version is quite different, if not better - it's actually faster and longer and has a slightly different percussion bridge... or at least, the version given to me was - but regardless it is still catchy!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Musical Chairs

The AIS/GA Olympic Squad has been 'reviewed' now that the Games proper are over. Er... seems odd to me, seeing as it's pretty much everyone that was already in the pre-Games squad:

Georgia, Ashleigh, Emma, Amber, Melanie, Dasha, Lauren, Shona

... minus Oliva who will be heading off for NCAA before the year is out, and of course we have the added bonus of 'visiting athlete' Emily Little. The team will be re-reviewed after National Clubs in November.

Various International Level 10 athletes have been selected for a Towards 2010 development camp in late September. These include the very decorated Natalia Joura, intriguing Waverley twin Emma Collister, and potential Commonwealth Games stars Amaya King-Koy, Angela Donald and Jessica Thompson, all of whom I had the fortune to see compete this year.

I personally predict big things from Amber Fulljames. In fact, FROM TODAY I hereby throw my full support behind the pocket rocket from Queensland, who made a name for herself at the National Apparatus Challenge earlier this year, in the face of recent retirements by the likes of Sims, Dykes and Webb. She has lovely toepoint and a lot of power. She is surely the shining future of Queensland gymnastics, who carries the torch for cute frecklies further than Li'l Orphan Annie ever could! Shine on, Amby! Go you good thing!