Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Case for Kerby and Chloe

If you can (or wish), buy a copy of the March edition of International Gymnast magazine. Or, for free, go to and click on "IG Digital" to read a digital version of it.

In the edition, there is an Australian supplement(!) featuring a Spring 2008 Preview of the Aussie squad and their assignments. Great to see, and it includes photos of Georgia Bonora, Shona Morgan and Dasha Joura. They interview national coach Peggy Liddick about what happened in Stuttgart (no real reason is given for the team's total meltdown and apparently one won't ever be discovered) and then she briefly profiles each of the squad members.

And here's where I take issue. Instead of saying "(Name) is a good (apparatus) worker and capable of scoring (x score). She did very well at (y competition) and we hope to put (z skill or combination) in her routine/repertoire soon", she goes into brief detail about each of the girls. Which is not altogether a bad thing, except that in parts it sounded like a stern teacher's report card about a student's class behaviour. Two comments in particular struck me:

On Chloe Sims: "Chloe is a little behind with a recent setback... I expect her to be in the running again soon." Apparently she has also had "disciplinary problems" and is now learning to understand "what the rules are".

On Kerby Purcell: "She has a decent vault but right now I don't think she's really in the running for the Olympic team".

With regard to Kerby...
I think this is a little unfair. Kerby's vault has been the talk of the squad for several months now. If she's keen on taking a one-event specialist like Olivia Vivian (uneven bars) then she may as well consider the girl with a stellar Yurchenko double. After all, she's not too shabby on beam either, apparently. I think it's poor form to say outright that she's got no chance. It's not a good thing to have at the back of her mind going into Nationals and trials. There is speculation that Peggy's doing the old trick she pulled with Monette Russo in 2005 (claiming in a press conference she'd have NO chance of medalling in the Worlds all-around, only to have her go on and historically do just that). So with that in mind, Kerby might not be such a long shot. We just don't know. Don't put brutal honesty past a head coach.
On a different (more positive) note, congratulations to Kerby who won the Moonee Valley Leader newspaper 'Junior Sports Star of the Year' Award a week ago!

Now for Chloe.

Yes, it's well been established that her performance consistency and her execution (particularly leg work) are often questionable; to the point where one is left holding their breath as she mounts the apparatus because there is the chance she could miscalculate a move and then lose the plot completely. It's happened more than once. She'll often demonstrate much better work on day 2 of a competition than day 1 as opposed to competent performances from the outset. But despite her apparent flaws, I don't think she's a total lost cause and I really don't think she's neglecting the needs of the team. Worlds '07 was her first chance at an international team event since Commonwealth Games in March '06 so she hasn't had a great deal of opportunity to experience a pressure-cooker team competition environment. I mean, perhaps she does feel that people expect little from her? Maybe she in particular goes into competitions with a defeatist cloud over her head? Maybe that's why we see her looking glum so often? With her it seems to be less about smiling after 'hitting' a routine but more about smiling for 'not stuffing it up'. Which it shouldn't be for a gymnast of this level. My opinion of Chloe and my expectations in her performances really took an upswing at Nationals last year. She came third all-around and medalled on bars, going on to top China's best on bars in the apparatus challenge. But then came Stuttgart and she succumbed to nerves again (Peggy didn't put her in the beam lineup, but who knows if she ever would have hit it then when it counted). I don't know why and I probably never will.

Chloe DOES have some fantastic skills. Her beam routine features both a piked and a tucked punch front somersault, an elegant Y-scale pirouette, an onodi and a double front dismount. Tsukahara 1.5 twist on vault. On floor she has both a double arabian *and* a running double front. Quite dramatic music too, but her choreography in '06 was - I admit - more striking and controlled than her erratic nerve-filled moves in '07. She also has an uneven bars A-score of about 6.7, one of the highest in the squad. As Liz Chetkovich said during the Commonwealth Games, Chloe has a lot of power and when she puts it in the right direction, she's awesome. Quite frankly, if she could hit the hell out of her beam and bars routines over the next five months (vault doesn't seem to be too much of a problem), she could get a lineup spot for the Olympic team without a problem. But she, more than anybody in the squad right now, needs to prove that she wants to be there for them. She's the one who it will mean the most to. She needs to combine good routines with a positive state of mind and sincere desire to perform. I can't help but think she'll benefit from a sit-down with University of Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan and be made to repeat "I can hit!" with resounding vocal force. How very Dead Poets-y.

If I had the ways and means I'd send a little letter to Ms Sims saying, "there are still fans out there who have big hopes for you! You can do it, we know you can! Don't be so hard on yourself and don't take anybody's crap!" and who knows, some Remember the Titans music might come wafting out of the envelope in the process...

Anyway, this relates to the supplement because I personally feel that letting the public know about her disciplinary problems (whatever they may have been) is not an appropriate or effective way to get an athlete to toe the line. She always seems to get criticised before she gets praised. Chloe will have so much pressure on her going into Nationals and trials, she doesn't need these comments on her mind as well (same for Kerby). Chloe needs to be appraised more and criticised less (or at least, more contructively). Because these kind of comments shape how she is viewed by an audience and their expectations of her, particularly an international audience. Her family and fans don't need to read constant criticism about her in the newspapers or other publications (they DO keep scrapbooks y'know). She doesn't need to be thought of as an unpredictable headcase, and I would hate for commentators to play up this angle when she competes. Chloe has very admirable qualities and some daring skills, and the fact that she's kept going after so many knocks is, I certainly hope, testament to the fact that she really, really wants to deliver in Beijing.

For her team, her coaches, her fans and most importantly herself.

(and here endeth this week's episode of Tooched Boy en Airn-jell)


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Miss Sass Puts Pen to Paper

Looking ahead to exciting times...

She's honest and eloquent and even brings up what I've been discussing - the lack of attention gym gets in this country despite its popularity when Olympics/CommGames roll around.

Read Dasha J's insightful first column in a series being published in the lead-up to Beijing here.

Great stuff!

International Eksposure: They Has It

Hurrah! Some videos of the WOGA Classic are up! Many thanks to the yoochoob user for being so courteous. Actually, while we're on the topic, do check out Lynn Denblyden's floor routine from the recent Pittsburg v Florida meet. I love the sassy way she incorporates the obligatory 'Gator Chomp' before tumbling (and the way the team does it with her!), much better than Amanda Castillo's past effort (as much as I love the fiery lass) with three erratic chomps and a shoulder-shimmy.
Double hurrah! According to GA's news page, the Aussie squad is getting out and about over the next month with some exciting competition assignments!
Pacific Alliance Championships, San Jose, USA: 25 - 30 March

Dasha Joura (AIS/WAIS)
Lauren Mitchell (AIS/WAIS)
Ashleigh Brennan (AIS/VIS)
Britt Greeley (VIS)
Tain Molendijk (WAIS)
Emily Little (WAIS)

Peggy Liddick
Martine George
Mischa Barabach

Jill Wright
Trisha Hade
Desiree Jones

Friendship Classic, Pottsville, USA: 15 - 16 March

Dasha Joura (AIS/WAIS)
Lauren Mitchell (AIS/WAIS)
Coach: Martine George

Golden Gate Classic, Sacramento, USA; 15 - 16 March

Ashleigh Brennan (AIS/VIS)
Shona Morgan (AIS/WGC/VIS)
Georgia Bonora (AIS/WGC/VIS)
Olivia Vivian (AIS/WAIS)
Britt Greeley (VIS)
Tain Molendijk (WAIS)
Emily Little (WAIS)

Peggy Liddick
Mischa Barabach
Nikolai Lapchine
Also, courtesy of GGMB, comes news that Aussies will be competing at Gymnix in Canada, March 1-2: Amber Fulljames, Melanie Jones and Victoria Williams.

Yes, you've probably noticed a big WA/VIC trend here. No doubt these are the strongest gymnasts routine-wise in the squad of late, but I suppose it's also a 'wake up call' to other girls (I'm thinking Chloe Sims [injury notwithstanding], Emma Dennis) who were looking at big assignments this year too: Show that you're competition-ready and you'll be given the chance to go. I think Peggy's re-thinking the past circumstances where comp places have gone to girls of questionable standing in the squad (see: Olivia Vivian's Shanghai World Cup appearance prior to Stuttgart where she didn't even go on to get selected for the team). I admit I'm surprised Fiona Coley and Victoria Williams have had competition exposure at larger events (WOGA, French International) over the last year instead of stronger Olympic contenders like Shona and Georgia...

The Rythmic team for PAC has been chosen also:

Naazmi Johnston (QLD) - our Olympic wildcard winner
Janine Murray (WA)
Kimberly Mason (NSW) - yaaaaaaaaaaay!
Chloe Hayes (WA)
Cody-Sue Turco (WA)
Jaelle Cohen (NSW)
Danielle Prince - Reserve (QLD)
Enid Sung - Reserve (NSW)
Krasimira Yurukova - Coach (WA)
Nicole Higham - Coach (NSW)

There is also a 'Towards 2010' training camp at the AIS for juniors this week, including Dasha's younger sister Natalia Joura and exciting bubs like QLD's Chantell Turnbull and one-half-of-the-cute-freckly-Waverley-twins-but-hopefully-she's-not-secretly-the-evil-one Emma Collister.
PS- on an unrelated note, go and see Run Fatboy Run. Don't go and see Jumper. That is all.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Top 5 Series Special Edition: TOP TEN!

Nobody move!...I dropped a contact lens...

Yeah, I know, the title's confusing. But as I've said, it's been WAY too hard to narrow down 5 memorable Floor routines from Camp Australia. There have been so many great ones in the years I've personally been watching (and attending) competitions, and no doubt many more before then as well. Please understand that this list has a slight margin of influence brought on by YouTube and access to footage of routines therein.
Ah yes, there's the straight-jacket making a slight appearance again.

So the list for this particular edition is extended to 10. 10! 10 febbulous floor aikser-size routines, ah ah ah ah ah!
...Sorry. I was really into Sesame Street as a kid (though some may argue it's also a fitting impersonation of Bela Karolyi. Discuss).
So warm up your jazz-hands and dust off your Sparkle Motion bedazzler-covered jacket, it's time to go tumbling and twirling!

10. Hayley Wright, 2005 SCATS Elite Qualifier
View it here

Hayley, as we've already seen, had flexibility and balletic lines to boot. What she lacked in tumbling she more than made up for in expression. This was one of her last routines before her retirement, and one of her very few competed internationally. Love that planche before the end. Would Hayley have gone well in NCAA competition? Probably. She'd certainly give Corey Hartung a run for her money!

9. Hollie Dykes, 2006 Commonwealth Games apparatus final
View it here.

Hollie didn't always have the most difficult tumbling (though I always hoped for the day she'd get the double layout back) but you couldn't fault her polish in her dance elements. Leg extension, toepoint, neatness all 'round. She won gold with this routine right after snagging a silver (some argued that she deserved gold) in the beam final.

8. Zeena McLaughlin, 1996 Olympic team trials
View it here.
I was going to use her 1998 Arthur Gander Memorial one, with the violin music she used for a few years that always got the crowd clapping along... but then I found this little gem of the little gem herself! Zeena was a gymnast who combined explosive power with poise and refined grace. Here she is in her early years, showing a lot of promise (thanks particularly to Lisa Bradley, who also choreographed #2!). The sound isn't great, I think it's the ubiquitous Zorro music? (Wow, gotta say, I really miss broadcasted competitions...except for that woman from FoxSports they always lumped alongside Liz Chetkovich...)

7. Monette Russo, 2005 World Championships all-around
View it here.
I know, it's really not the most polished of routines alongside the likes of Skinner or Slater (her Athens Olympic teammates), but given that gymnastics gets such a raw deal in this country, I can say from experience (because I was THERE to see it happen!) that never have I felt such urgency in gym spectators; never have I felt an audience mentally willing a competitor on so much because a hit routine would count for so much. She must have been feeling so much pressure but she sold the routine really well. Everyone was screaming in their heads for 'Our Netty' to stand up her double pike to get into medal contention, and those screams manifested themselves for real once she did. The roof of the arena nearly lifted off, it was awesome!

6. Lisa Skinner, 2000 Olympic Games all-around final.
View it here.

"Arabian Princess", one of Lisa's best routines ever. This was her second Olympics, as she had 'retired' after Atlanta but came back with a bang for the Sydney crowd. Lisa's 8th-place AA finish still stands as the highest ever for an Australian artistic gymnast, and at the same meet she became the first to ever make an Olympic floor final (where she also finished 8th). Apparently she designed the leotard too? Nice job on all counts, Lisa!

5. Katarina Frketic, 1999 International Team Championships
View it here.

Under new head coach Peggy Liddick's watchful eye, the late 1990's saw the Aussie women's team embark on a pink-and-purple-clad assault on the international competition scene, getting as much experience as they could pack in as the lead-up to their home Olympics began. Kat was a light and nimble performer who made the most of an over-used piece of music, getting nice height in all her skills here and extending from her toes right through to her fingertips. Shame about the step out of bounds. She and Alex Croak were similar in their execution. Kat was also a member of the 1998 Commonwealth Games team that scored a historic gold in Kuala Lumpur.

4. Dasha Joura, 2007 Stuttgart DTB World Cup
View it here.

The routine for which she won her first World Cup gold medal! Miss Sass had tough competition from World AA bronze medallist Jade Barbosa but came out with the goods in both the apparatus final *and* the informal "winner's final". Dasha was her usual exciting self, showing off this highly-regarded routine packed with artistic flair and spunky personality. It's also one of the few times we've seen an Aussie competitor in red, and doesn't she look great?

3. Alexandra Croak, 2002 Commonwealth Games team final
View it here.

The striking and sure-footed Alexandra put up a good score with this routine. The whole team, in fact, had good floor routines in this meet and some unique choreography. As much as I love Beth T and her mates at Team GB, I have to say England couldn't hold a candle to Oz on floor.The music wasn't the kind of lively gypsy fiddle song or techno track we're used to hearing. Her beautiful choreography drew you in and made your gaze follow her all around the floor.

2. Allana Slater, 2004 Olympic Games team final
View it here.

Allana put her best effort in for the girls in our first ever Olympic team final appearance. This was a polished and engaging performance, the kind we'd come to expect from the elegant Ms Slater. Real expression, real drama, a real highlight of the competition. Sadly she missed out on the floor final. The green aboriginal-art-inspired leotards looked pretty ace on the team, though!

1. Trudy McIntosh, 2000 Olympic Games preliminaries.
View it here.

Yes, she goes out of bounds but I just love this routine in all other aspects. It was one of my favourites (if not THE favourite, I can't remember too many as my video got damaged) from the Games. It really got the crowd 'rocking' as I believe the commentators remarked. It was upbeat, it got people clapping, it was patriotic without being too cheesy, Trudy herself 'rocked' a double layout with a full twist (among other impressive tumbles) and gave the packed-out home crowd something to cheer about. It was fantastic and could have brought her so much more were it not for the unfortunate step outside the lines.

Rest assured, a "From the Archives" edition will be collated soon, for all you readers older and wiser than I who'd like to see some old-school Aussies in action...

Apologies if any of this post turns out skew-wiff, I'm uploading from one of the computers at uni. Photo credits to Gymbox and

Friday, February 22, 2008

PAC -ing their bags

The Pacific Alliance Championship team for women has now been named. The competition format is being speculated about on forums so as far as I can fathom they're competing as whole teams (there won't be seperate senior and junior division competitions) but am not sure if it's 5 up, 4 scores count or 3 up, 3 scores count. Feel free to correct me. It's a shame if it does turn out to be 3-3 because while that works for a team like the USA who have *incredible* depth of all-arounders, we Aussies have 2 strong all-around performers and an almost-there third one.

Anyway, the senior team is as I had quietly guessed- Dasha Joura, Lauren Mitchell, Ashleigh Brennan. So we'll be lacking a little on bars but floor and beam will be great! Narry an untidy beast or nerve-wracked headcase in sight (Ash is getting better all the time)! These girls are strong candidates for Beijing.

The junior team consists of Emily Little, Tain Molendijk and Britt Greeley (Greeley and Brennan had an advantage, having already competed in America this month).

Good luck to all the teams.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Minor Thoughts on the Australian Sports Awards

1. Gymnastics didn't have any nominees this year, which is a shame after Chloe Sims, Philippe Rizzo and the Women's CommGames team [who went on to win the Young Team of the Year gong] all got nods last year for their achievements in 2006.

2. Note on the "Voting Academy" page which sports are represented by governing body or related-media body members:

Surf Lifesaving, Volleyball, Cricket, Basketball, Netball, Skiing.

The remaining Voters are government and senate representatives, State sporting body members, major sports event body members (cf. Australian Olympic Committee), health and 'active living' organisation members, sport insurance company members and sports media representatives. Now, it's not that I think a Gymnastics Australia representative should be in that voting academy... I mean, I do, but ostensibly ALL sports should be represented. Sports that are played at a national level or moreso that have Olympic representation (in addition to ye olde AFL/Cricket/Rugby etc). I think it only makes the situation fair. Giving everyone "a fair go" is something consistently highlighted in sporting situations here in Australia, from ragtag grass roots teams to official and highly-publicised tribunal appearances. Every sport should be represented so any athlete with a major success (and possibly less publicity than the usual winners) has a chance to be nominated.

In other news, Australia has picked its men's team for the 2008 Pacific Alliance Championships and it looks to be a very good one.

Senior -
Sam Simpson (QAS)
Philippe Rizzo (AIS)
Josh Jefferis (AIS)
res: Sam Offord, Prashanth Sellathurai

Luke Wadsworth (VIC HPC)
Mathew Curtis (QAS)
Jack Rickards (NSWIS)
res: Sean O'Hara (SASI)

No doubt few (if any) of these members will get television coverage, as the USA-Japan clash will be billed as more exciting. But I hope at least Rizzo and Simpson get their heads on the box because they're the ones riding a bit of success at the moment. The team will probably make for an NBC pre-Olympics 'fluff' piece if anything (along the lines of the Old Boy missing out and the New Blood getting to shine etc etc etc).

Friday, February 15, 2008

Somebody Call Benny Ninja

My guilty televisual pleasure is America's Next Top Model y'see...

Here's something you don't hear ranted about very often: poses. Notably, poses in women's gymnastics. Oh yes, Dwight Normile can go on and on about skills all he likes, but choreography and aesthetics are just as important as compositional difficulty.

There are some poses I'm getting particularly sick of seeing, in beam routines and on floor. They look a bit silly, but that doesn't stop numerous girls doing them (which is a sillier sight in itself).

1. The Finger Gun. Come on people, this isn't Spaced (big claps for you if you get the reference). It hit the height of ridiculousness when Elena Zamolodchikova (God love her) ended her 2000 Olympics floor routines with it and then, I kid you not, blew on her finger a la smoking pistols in a spaghetti western. Aussie example? Monette Russo.

2. The Straight Jacket. Looks worse when the bum is stuck out slightly. If you're not Betty Boop, I'd prefer not to see it. Aussie Examples? Georgia Bonora, Lauren Mitchell, Ashleigh Brennan.

Variations include The One-Armed Straight Jacket.

3. The Libra aka The Walk Like An Egyptian. It's just *foolish*, even if your music is Arabian-inclined. Aussie examples? Hayley Wright, Steph Moorhouse.

4. The Talk-to-the-Hand aka The Kung Fu Badass. I almost expect the lower, straightened arm to give a little "come get some!"-gesture like Neo in The Matrix. Aussie example? Lauren Mitchell.

Image credits: Minkus, Gymbox, World Gym Art,, Sing Lo, International Gymnast

Turning it Up to Eleven

Sorry, sorry, sorry. Computer has been MIA for about a week, very frustrating (particularly in the lead-up to the new academic year).

Thanks to eagle-eyed fans, news of upgrades in the Aussie women's squad has filtered through from judges and they sound quite spectacular. As witnessed at a recent Olympic Squad training camp:

- Dasha Joura is attempting an Amanar (Yurchenko 2.5 twist) vault and a double layout on floor (as seen in her recent Fox Sports interview) which would propel her up the AA rankings. She is also going to compete at the upcoming Friendship Classic in the USA this March so it will be a chance to unveil one or both of these skills. Still no word on her whip-triple twist.
- Shona Morgan is going for a Baitova (Yurchenko double) while Kerby Purcell is refining hers (she competed it at the recent IGI Chicago Style invitational)
- Lauren Mitchell, also slated to compete at the Friendship Classic, is putting a piked(!) arabian double front in her floor out, Beth Tweddle!

The next big challenge for the team is the selection trial for the Pacific Alliance Championships team. By the looks of things, nobody's going to the American Cup but the girls will be training in the USA for a bit. Only four will be chosen, and those four are looking to better the silver medal efforts of the 2006 team (the only remaining member of which is Dasha). I think Miss Joura and Mitchell are locks, Ash Brennan is looking strong for a spot but heaven knows who would get the last one. No word on Chloe Sims' progress so perhaps Shona might get it...?

It must be said that the girls are really rebounding after the Stuttgart disaster, this is looking to be quite an exciting team with a genuine medal chance. Multiple medal chances, in fact. Nationals will be an interesting event this year with some impressive skills on show (last year, to be honest, left a lot to be desired). Here's hoping they continue to improve and hit some great routines as we hurtle towards Beijing.

Happy Belated Valentine's Day everyone. It's good to be back!


Edited to amend the Amanar-Baitova confusion. My bad. Big thanks to readers for correcting me; I read enough at GGMB, you think I'd have picked it up. Derr, Fred!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Top 5 Series: Balance Beam Edition

The second-most captivating event in women's artistic gymnastics, and the one event that typifies what the sport is all about - acrobatics combined with grace and amplitude made to look effortless, yet at the same time studied and honed. The intimidating, enigmatic and rather unpredictable Balance Beam.

Anyway, that's me gettin' all sentimental. On to the list of great Aussie beam routines!

5. Trudy McIntosh, 2000 Olympic Games team preliminaries

View it here

Despite being a powerhouse on floor and vault, Trudy was quite a solid beam worker as well. She wasn't the most elegant but was still very watchable. She plants her feet strongly after every skill, used the whole length of the beam and of course had difficulty to boot (though I got a bit sick of those Shushunova-to-hip-circle-around-the-beam's). Australia needed this after a rough start on vault. Love the way Liz C says "changement jump", just exquisite (sorry, came across all Nigella Lawson-y then...)

4. Monette Russo, 2004 American Cup all-around

View it here

Great routine for her in the lead-up to the Athens Olympics. Netty joined a very short list of Aussies that have competed (and had routines broadcasted!) at the annual American Cup event. *Lovely* acro work, my personal favourite skills being her layout to two feet (which she later vetoed for a layout-stepout) and her rulfova.

3. Hayley Wright, 2003 Friendship Classic

View it here

A bit shaky throughout but in terms of an eye-catching routine, she honestly had one of the best beam mounts around, so unique and elegant, it is such a shame she never got to perform it on a grander stage. I just love planches. Hayley had such good execution in all her skills. She also had great floor choreo too.

2. Lauren Mitchell, 2007 Beijing Olympic Test Event beam final

View it here

The only thing I love more than the routine itself is what happens after it - The grin and wave, Dasha joking "take up all the camera space [why don't you]!" and her hugging Lauren with a big smile. Nice to see she'd ironed out most of the wobbles from Worlds (I do like that unique Humphrey turn) though many felt she should have won over suprise winner Cheng Fei (the queen of vault and floor). Lauren's the national champ on this event, was a World finallist in Stuttgart and came second on it at the DTB Cup weeks later (going on to win the 'Winners Final'), she is a shoo-in for a medal in Beijing if she hits.

1. Hollie Dykes, 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships team/all-around

View it here

The first Aussie under the new code to crack a 16.0, which was a fantastic achievement (and one she repeated at the AUS v CHN event in 2007). This was one of her strongest routines (after flubs at the Commonwealth Games, Shanghai World Cup and Stuttgart Worlds) besides her gold-medal winning routine from the DTB Cup in 2006. She was beautiful and talented and so calm on the event, it's sad we won't be seeing this at Beijing (making the commentator's remarks somewhat bittersweet).

Monday, February 4, 2008

Winners are Grinners at the WOGA Classic

Good results for Australia at the WOGA Classic.

I had a feeling it would be won by a home club girl (it was - Christa Tanella), but in the all-around our own Ashleigh Brennan tied for second with Canada's Kristina Vaculik, scoring 56.75, just .15 off first place. In event finals, Ash won(!) balance beam with a fantastic score of 15.45 (atoning for Stuttgart, so perhaps that potential Beijing beam lineup is not looking so bad after all) and placed 3rd on bars with a 14.2.

(L-R: Ashleigh, Christa, Kristina)

Kerby Purcell and Fiona Coley placed 6th and 7th all-around respectively. Britt Greeley was tied for 5th all-around in the junior division of the competition. The Aussie team itself finished 3rd overall.

Well done to all the girls. The current issue of International Gymnast magazine (the website of which the above photo comes from) features a gorgeous picture of Ashleigh, she's grown into quite the elegant young competitor.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Vic chicks shake up the 'States

At last! Footage of Melbourne-based Lynn Denblyden (nee Silcock) has surfaced. Here she is competing for the Florida 'Gators' gymnastics team on one of her pet events, vault.


(I mean, I know NCAA fosters an environment of excitement and fandom, but I'd like to think it's reserved for the crowd and teams. Not the commentators. Overkill, Bart. Nyaaaaw, love that the team are so supportive of her though.)

Some other talented Victorian girls are in the US at the moment as well - Ashleigh Brennan, Fiona Coley, Britt Greely and Kerby Purcell are all competing at the semi-demi-prestigious WOGA Classic in Texas (WOGA being the home club of 2004 Olympic champ Carly Patterson and multiple World Champion Anastasia Liukin). Good luck, ladies! I will post results (and hopefully photos!) when I get them because this was an exciting little contingent we sent. :)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Olympic Preparations Get Underway

Hello, dear readers.

Some news from the Aussie camp has filtered through from various sources. Many thanks to all the informants for garnering information (and, of course, gossip!) where they can.

1. National senior champ and Olympic hopeful Dasha Joura has been selected as one of several 2008 Olympic torch-bearers and will carry the flame as the torch relay goes through Canberra. Former WA alum Allana Slater carried the torch in the lead-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics.

2. Training camp for the junior squad is taking place in Canberra, with the likes of Natalia Joura (Dasha's little sis), Britt Greely and Tain Molendijk looking to make their mark like reigning national junior champ Emma Dennis did last year. The girls were also trialling to make the team for the Pacific Alliance Championship's junior division.

3. In lieu of an Australia vs China duel event this year, GA will bring the dainty Japanese team to compete against Australia's best during the National Championships. No matter who it is coming here, some bee-YOO-tiful gymnastics will surely be on display over that week.