Saturday, January 31, 2009

Team (B)Ambi Celebrates

GAAAAAH! Blackouts and heatwaves are not helpful for bloggers.

Happy belated 17th birthday to the most adorable and freckly member of the squad, Queensland's Amber Fulljames! I expect big things from her in the new year so I do hope she keeps at it. She showed so much potential in 2008.

The WAGs celebrated at camp, and 'Team (B)ambi' dutifully raises a glass from interstate.

Ironing one's hair: Results may vary.

In sad camp-related news, Tain Molendijk and Jade Martin are reportedly retired.

As far as I can fathom, Olivia Vivian's foot is still injured as she did not compete with the OSU team in their competition against Utah. In the meantime, her most recent diary entry has been posted.

I won't lie. It's hard being so far away from my family. But at the same time, I've gained a new one. I lost one brother, but gained 15 sisters. Not a bad deal on my part, considering my brother was a pain in the you-know-what...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Goin' Down to C-Town.

If GA are to be believed, Canberra (or "Canbags" as I have heard it affectionately named) is where it's at this month. Talk of the AIS gymnastics program shutting down is certainly dispelled in their latest update. For now, at least.

All's well that ends well for AIS alum Hollie Dykes who has taken up a coaching position with the International Development Program. What a pleasant gymnastics world it would be if EVERYONE mastered the immaculate execution inherent in prima ballerina Hollie...

And yes, the Senior WAG team is there too. Including WAIS newbie Kayleigh Cooke from the UK. Fear not, AshleighAfficianados who thought Ms Brennan had up and left the squad altogether - she is, "still on holidays with her parents and assessing her competitive future". So there's still some hope there. Right?

*shakes you by the shoulders*

This is the bit where you slap me and say "Get a holda yourself, woman!".
Go on.
I'll wait.

Emily Little was specifically named as one to get a new floor routine, where all of the others will have their choreography worked on (Go Stacey, Go!)

In terms of assignments, there will be no Australian representative at the WOGA Classic or Nadia Comaneci invitational this year. That looks to be about it so far, with another verification camp in April to determine participation (if any) in a May "Pre-Olympic Youth Cup" in Germany. Lauren Mitchell is thus far confirmed to head to Doha.

P-Liddy (we tight, yo) confirms that Nationals this year in July WILL be an international 'friendly' (pleaseChinaorGBpleaseChinaorGBpleaseChinaorGB) and act as a determiner for European events such as the Grand Prix events in France and Germany. Hopefully it won't just be a case of same-old-same-old, sending girls who've been before and whatnot. This is a new year and a chance to capitalise on the Olympic experience of others in the squad.

Apparently there are a few "surprise" skills and upgrades to expect among the group.

I call consistent DTYs from Dennis and Morgan, a full-in final floor pass as well as, at the very least, good foundations for an Amanar from Joura. Oh, and let us not forget that the latter is also slated for a new floor routine.

I've had the traffic counter up on the blog for less than a week, and already you wonderful readers have clocked up over 900(!) visits to this page. If it weren't so socially frowned-upon or lamely overwrought by blazer-clad beardy weirdies in YouTube videoclips for crappy Sydney emo bands... I'd run up and hug you all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It's been a pretty slow news day today (well... it's a pretty slow EVERYTHING day here in Melbourne with the temperature soaring to 41 degrees) but the following piece of information makes me very happy.

The Facebook group "Supporters of Australian Gymnastics" has surpassed 70 members! 70 lovely, smiling, happy and clappy gym fans.

Would you like to be one of them? It's easier than you think.

Those with Facebook accounts can click on the link at the right-hand side of this page or go to the Groups function at Facebook, go to Search and type in "Australian Gymnastics".
Those without Facebook accounts can go to and join that social networking thing everyone's been talking about, and complete the above step in between bouts of typing out your own personal profile information.

I am yet to find a group that Thorpey has declared more "fully sick".

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Spontaneous Patriotism Day

Happy Australia Day to Aussies at home and overseas.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Count Me In

I have now added a counter to the blog.

Please visit and validate me, while at the same time wonder which of those digits you are...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Aussie Gymnasts in the News

More from Olivia Vivian today. I don't know if it will be an ongoing thing, but she's written an Athlete Diary here.

In terms of Australia Day celebrations, The Moreton Bay Regional Council named Beijing MAG representative Sam Simpson as their young sportsperson of the year, and you can see him mentioned here.

West Australian fans in the Esperance area can see Allana Slater at an Australia Day family event at Adventureland.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vivian on Video

At last!

Videos of Perth's own OSU debutante Olivia Vivian have emerged on YouTube.

See her in her debut performance (where she scored 9.7), at the Cancun Classic, here.

See her in the team's meet against Brigham Young University here.

According to reports, Olivia is currently struggling with a foot injury so participation in upcoming meets is uncertain at the moment.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

Aaaah Melbourne. It's good to be home.





So. The Youthlympic Festival. How 'bout it, hey?

Yeah. *cough* How 'bout it.

Stop me if you've heard it all already, but for my own closure and for those not members of forums etc, I'd like to have a run-down.

The Australian WAG team battled injury, with Mary-Anne Monckton and Ashley Cooney out and Zoe Lorenzin in. Emily Little, as I stated, won vault and was the highest-ranked Australian in the all-around, coming 4th. Britt Greeley, second to Emily in the vault final, was next highest in 7th. The Australia 'A' team placed 4th and the Australia 'B' team placed 5th in the teams final. Numerous spectators remarked that this team really didn't live up to expectations and have a lot of work to do before entering the senior ranks. Whether or not they were over-worked or nervous, we won't ever truly know. They did their best under the circumstances but they've certainly got some doubters to disprove.

Our men's team fared slightly better (we don't always get to say that, hey!). Team A placed 3rd and Team B placed 4th in the final. Again, we missed all-around medals with Ben Astley finishing highest in 4th. Thankfully, we snared medals in the floor final (silver and bronze), rings final (silver), vault final (bronze) and high bar final (silver). Onya, boys!

At this point I wish to give epic thanks to Nade, innocent_bystander, Chachakid and Flippin_Crzy at GGMB/WWGym for their great photos and videos and information. You guys really brought me up to speed!

In terms of multimedia (courtesy of the above sources):

Full results can be found here.

Some other photos can be found here. (Scroll down)

Photos by Gymnastics Australia can be found here.

Numerous videos can be found here. Watch Natalia Joura's bars from the team final if you can stomach it. It's a nervous splatfest (and then some).

On top of the rather disappointing results, these insights from attendees made me a little sad -

Saddest moment of the day had to be when Natalia fell on her last pass on floor and hurt her ankle. Her coach was sitting only a few steps away and could clearly see that she was in pain but did nothing to assist her. She limped a little bit then was forced to crawl to him. Whilst sitting next to him he continued to ignore her. This unknown man came up to her with ankle tape and she was given a bag of ice.

ETA: Video of this can be seen here, thanks to ChaChaKid. Quite concerning, I must say. She CRAWLS over to the seats, without assistance.


I heard Peggy say to some unidentified lady afterwards that the elite gyms are either going to have to "get on board or get out". Oh joy- more broken Aussies!


From what I heard from my coach, Peggy was NOT happy at all. To quote his Russian-English "This results, no good. 8 Australians, and no result. Long talks with coaches."

Hm... I can't WAIT to find out how the post-AYOF camp plays out...

Avast Ye!

I'm still here, still alive.

I'm in Sydney at the moment, getting a flight home to Melbourne this afternoon. I read an article yesterday in the Daily Telegraph about a swimmer at the Youth Olympic Festival, and got a little welled up at the thought I wasn't able to provide y'all with coverage.

Apparently BabyDasha didn't have the best time and the team itself kinda imploded (but good on Emily and Britt for going 1-2 in the vault final!) so I guess P-Liddy's not too happy.

I've missed my little bloggy and the chance to go mad with updates and whatnot. Reports and vids are floating around, I will link to them this evening once I am home and recovered a little.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ahoy There!

Avast ye, and such!

Greetings from somewhere in the South Pacific, wobbling and bobbling over the ocean. We're not at our destination yet but I can tell you all that I'm alive and well ("Damn", I hear you say).

I am quite lame, I will admit - on Thursday, when we touched down in Sydney (where we caught the boat from yesterday afternoon), I kept my eye out in the domestic terminal for our AYOF team. To no avail, of course. But you can't say I didn't try! I did have my own luggage to keep an eye on, though.

The cabin steward on our deck is Romanian, and it's taken all my strength not to ask him about the national gymnastics team. Stupid, I know. I do suppose it's as incongruous as asking any British person what they think about such-and-such distant relative of Her Maj.

Anyway! I'll hopefully get back near a computer soon. Hope you're all keeping your eyes and ears out for news of the AYOF and other events.

Stay fabulous, mes amis! (or in this case - Mez's amis! Nyuk nyk nyuk)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bon Voyage

I'm heading off tomorrow (Thursday) morning, venturing off into the South Pacific for 12 days.

So as I've said, I won't be covering the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, unless I can get near an internet cafe where I'm going and it isn't fist-eatingly expensive to use.

I'll be back on the 21st(ish). I hope you all enjoy the coming January days.

Here's something for you to mull over in the meantime.

And here is something else.

Au revoir!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

YouTube, I Tube, We All Tube

It had to happen.

I started up a YouTube account for this blog which you can find here. I have to sort out these video files so I can upload Olympic footage, NBC is being very unkind to my efforts. In the meantime, have a squizz through my 'Favourites' and watch my OTHER Olympic montage!

Should I film anything in future, it will go to that account and NOT the original FicusGirl account. Please disregard that one now and keep your eyes peeled on t'other.


Nostalgic Faffery

1. GA have put online an archive of their old magazines published throughout the late 80's and 90's, "Ten" and "Australian Gymnast".

I used to get these when I was younger; they were available at my gym's front desk and I hve some issues from between 1996 and 1998. I didn't really KNOW who the gymnasts were, I just liked the pictures. I cut out said pictures for school collages and decoration, rendering the magazines pretty much useless. A year or two ago, however, I cracked them out again after a room-clean (they were discovered under a pile of other antiquated things) and marvelled at what I saw (on the pages that were not sliced and/or diced), knowing what I know now. I found photos of a young Lisa Skinner and a budding Olympic team in blazers too big for them. I found a photo featuring a very very young Phillippe Rizzo (his adorable mole was as visible as ever, even when he was standing at the back of a group in a black-and-white photo) and Brooke Walker. The results lists and tables compiled at the back of the magazine gave me the most thrill - I not only found Z. McLaughlin and A. Slater and B. Walker and K. Frketic's names from levels competitions and so on. I found Alyssa Camplin and Lydia Ierodiaconou as well, when they used to be gymnasts!

2. I am having trouble uploding the first of the Beijing retrospectives (it being a compilation of Georgia Bonora's preliminary routines. Next up: Ashleigh Brennan) thanks to NBC-Universal and the whole copyright thing. I don't wish to play with fire and risk getting my precious vids deleted so I might have to start a new profile or change the file name of the .wmv *sigh*. I find it odd that there are several users who have uploaded vids with 'Olympics' specifically in the title and THEY don't get their footage rejected...

3. Not nostalgic, but youthful all the same: AYOF profiles are up, click on the name to read the profile.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Now Look What I've Gone and Done.

Oh Dear. Look at what boredom has forced me to do for you all.

Olympic videos are sloooooooowly being uploaded to my YouTube account. First up is Georgia Bonora (I'm going alphabetically through the team) so once again... stay tuned!

Australia at the Olympics: Videos

I am currently in the process of uploading footage I have of the Australian team in Beijing (stuff I have used for montages etc) to YouTube. Unfortunately, the team finals footage I have won't work in Movie Maker so it will only be routines from the qualification round, as filmed by NBC Olympics. I will group them by gymnast, and you know I've already put up Dasha's routines in two chunks; this will be a similar thing for each of the other gymnasts but all in one clip per athlete.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Livvy Goes Live in Cancun

Olivia Vivian's long-awited NCAA debut has taken place; she competed bars for the OSU Beavers at the 'Cancun Classic' (for those not in the know, Cancun is infamous for being to college students' Spring Break what the Gold Coast is to Schoolies Week!) and scored a 9.7, helping her team to second place!

The Beavs next take on Brigham Young University in Utah on January 9th.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Keynote Address: Liz Chetkovich

Let's get this year started with a motivational, informational, un-muppetational speech.

I discovered, rather accidentally, a fantastic little nugget on YouTube. After the Olympics, WAIS gymnastics program co-ordinator and television commentator Liz Chetkovich (pictured below) was a keynote speaker for a conference given by the Western Australia Department of Sports and Recreation. The speech was recorded and can be listened to in various parts, found below. Liz talks about the growth of the WAIS gymnastics program and its contribution to Australia's gymnastics successes, as well as her own journey starting up and working for the program. This is a must for any coach or Australian gym enthusiast, as well as anyone who is curious as to how WAIS has become the powerhouse it has.

Part 1, in which she outlines Australia's gymnastics history, is here
Part 2, in which she talks about WAIS early days, is here
Part 3, in which she talks about the WAIS system and its structure, is here
Part 4, in which she talks more about Olympic development programs (and says both "yay!" and "ant's pants" and claims she is the "world champion of getting Australian visas") is here
Part 5, in which she talks more about coaching and sums up WAIS philosophy, is here

"The other thing I've learned [is] nobody's a 'star' until they DO something. You have to actually SHOW you're a star before we can call you a star."

Liz, I wish I knew how to quit you.

2009: Entry the First

Shoulder quaintance beeef I got
And neeeeever something, something!

Happy New Year, everyone. And HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY TO THE AUSTRALIAN GYMNASTICS BLOG! I can't believe I didn't think to post yesterday, it only just hit me. My little bloggy is one whole year old, howzat!? Time certainly flies when you're having fun...

I hope 2009 brings some exciting gymnastics events for me to discuss and dissect with you all. Let me welcome in this new year with an invitation for you all to continue sending feedback, news, reports and media from or about gymnastics issues or events. I can't be in fifty places at once so I invite you to submit (or at least consider submitting) anything you might want to share with other gym-thusiasts. I created that email address for a reason, and all sources get credited!

This blog can't run without readers or contributors so don't be afraid to let me hear your two cent's worth. It's nice to take a break from my own voice once in a while. We've already had one reader get public kudos for her journalism efforts, whose to say you can't be next?

That said, my primary concern here, beyond informing and entertaining gymfans, is RESPECT. Respect for your opinions and creativity, and respect of the exponents of this great sport - the gymnasts. I do not, and will not, publish information or multimedia items taken from a gymnast's MySpace/Facebook/personal site without knowledge or express permission of the athlete in question or the site's master/mistress. The last thing I would want would be to embarass or discredit someone who does not deserve it. Please exercise common sense with anything you come across and think about the implications of bringing it to my knowledge. I consider, for the most part, all outcomes of material sent to me and posts I may be writing; I just hope you do the same. I do my best to utilise the most legitimate and/or reliable sources, I most certainly do not glorify hearsay or grudge-based rumours.

Mez sez: Use your noggin and we'll get some worthwhile bloggin'!

Now let's get this 2009 ball rolling. Up very soon is the Australian Youth Olympic Festival which, I have said, I will be absent for. But I know there are a couple of sources heading to the event, so I hope they'll be generous enough to drop me a line and I can try to post a bit if I get near an internet cafe where I am staying.

There's no stopping the competition season, so GO YOU BIG RED FIRE ENGINE!!!