Saturday, February 28, 2009

Not Everyone Has Good Days

Not even semi-celebrity recruits.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Might Like to Know...

...that Britt Greeley is working towards a Yurchenko double on vault and three consecutive releases on uneven bars.

You go, sister-girlfriend!

Exhibit A: Gymnast.

At 3:25 of this video, you can see a recovered Olivia Vivian performing an 'exhibition' (see: score doesn't count) bars routine in the OSU meet against the University of Washington. Nice stick on the dismount for a 9.75, her highest score yet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You Can Take the Girl Out of Gymnastics...

If you open the Herald Sun newspaper today you will see a picture of Athens teammates Steph Moorhouse and Monette Russo doing lovely handstands, promoting their fundraising team in the Run For The Kids in Melbourne.

You can read more about their efforts and even find the web link to join or sponsor the campaign here.

Speaking of Victorian gymnastics, you'll be glad to hear that the Open Day at the VWHPC raised $1,145 for the bushfire appeal. Well done, gymnasts and families (and fans)! My last two videos from the day (I can't seem to get part 4 working) are here and here, where the girls lined up at the end and Ashleigh B, Steph and Netty gave them yellow ribbons before the minute silence was held.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ones to Watch 2009

International Gymnast is doing an ongoing feature about international juniors turning senior in 2009.

Britt Greeley, Chantelle Turnbull, Karina Brooks and Kirsty Gully are the named Aussies. Contributors to this blog might notice their videos on show.

I don't mind constructive criticism but... reading the piece, some of it made me feel like they were making generalisations about the gymnasts' skills and respective repertoires based only on hasty YouTube viewing sessions (and assuming that the way that did that skill at that particular competition is the way they always do it) rather than gaining an idea of the athlete's capability as a whole through other means. Let's face it, the Britt I saw on Saturday (despite not doing full routines) looked eleven times more confident, self-assured and comfortable than the one we saw at the AYOF. And she didn't have the same floor routine as PAC, this one is much better!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Open Day - Photos

Here are the remaining photos courtesy of Ade.
(Sorry about the size)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Open Day - Vids

Thought this might make the viewing process easier in terms of not-being-buried-under-other-stuff. Sorry about the quality.

My first video is a very short one, but you can spot Britt Greeley off to the side.

My second video is... a bit crap.

Here is what Nade filmed. The levels kiddies were doing dance-throughs in synch on the floor. Quite cute. I remark that I initially though the piano music was a bit 'Chariots of Fire', and those of you who've seen Georgia gymnast Abby Stack's new floor... you'll realise that that piece of music can be butchered through choreography.

In this video, you can see Ashleigh Brennan and Fiona Coley jogging around the mat to warm up and Britt shifting the mat for tumbling.

I have a couple more but YouTube is being slow and unhelpful. Please stay tuned, as some additional photos of the training session are also on their way!

(Thanks Ade)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Visit to the VWHPC

I arrived this morning at around 9am, having slept through my alarm by 20 minutes and taken a wrong turn on my walking route through Prahran. Damn you, Google Maps!

I finally found the place. I headed upstairs to the artistic gym and was greeted by lovely ladies who took my donation and pointed me to where I had to sit - halfway across the room and through gymnasts performing on practice beams and bars. Scary.

Almost all their WAG groups were training today - Level 6, Level 8, International Level 10, Junior International and Senior International. I know Laura Hingston, Zoe Lorenzin, Tiera Exum, Britt Greeley by name/face. The others I wasn't so sure about. I met Laura and Zoe's mums who were lovely (hi, ladies!) and who had nice things to say about the blog.

I sat with two blog readers and fellow gym enthusiasts (hi, ladies!) and whiled away the practise session taking short video clips and chatting (the latter probably audible on the former).

But now onto the juicy stuff.

Not sure if she's going for college recruitment or being welcomed back into the senior fold, but Fiona Coley appeared with Ashleigh Brennan some time just before 10. Both warmed up together but then parted to work individually on strength or weight work. Ash didn't show any skills or routines, mostly stuck to weights or conditioning. Fiona did a lovely triple pirouette on floor, some single layouts onto mats, a running double front onto the tumble track and a walk-along on beam (which included a simple yet elegant pose up on her toes held for about 30 seconds. Karate Kid, eat your heart out!) She also showed good flexibility in stretches at the beam. Monette Russo, Steph Moorhouse and Ruth R-unspellable surname popped by and chatted to Ash/Fiona near the end of their training before handing out yellow ribbons at the end of the session. Big ups to the older girls who were all also wearing yellow ribbons in their hair.

Little gymnasts are the kyooootest. Especially those who go at beam skills with a tongue hanging out or firmly in the cheek in concentration. Several littlies were working in synch on beam. Step, step, scale.

Things That Are Popular With Gym Mums: The new levels floor music (notably Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies for Level 6), chewing gum, Stacey Umeh-Lees ("She's great! She's such a character!")

Things on the Walls: Old and recent comp posters (2003 worlds, 2005 worlds, old IG posters of Amanar/Podkopayeva and the like), autographs from members of medal-winning teams past.

Near the gymnasts' lockers and shelves are posters autographed by Monette Russo, the 2006 WAG Commonwealth Games team and the 2005 World Championship medallists

***Skills on show***


Let me just get two out of the way first-



Is your mind not boggling!!!????

One of my fellow observers who didn't turn up slightly late and a bit hungover like myself (sorry, gym mums! Big night out last night!) noted that when some of the other girls were doing punch somis early on, all except Britt could do them without a supporting mat. Foot problems? I don't know. But she did just about all of her tumbles to the one corner of the floor... the corner with the mat.

It was a bit of a madhouse, with the coaches Mischa and Tracey watching up to two apparatus at once. You never quite knew who they were calling out to.

Tierra Exum showed some nice high double pikes and a 1.5 twist to pike front but that was about the only thing her long legs did justice. Her twists were a bit tangled and her beam work suffered a little too.

Britt did a nice dance-through on floor plus a 2.5 twist to layout punch front. Say what you will about her bars or beam work, she's really working that choreography, especially with improved toepoint. And she's sure getting those tumbles up.

Tierra once again has the old 'Ojos Asi' music Steph Moorhouse used. Apparently the girls still do not have new floors yet but Peggy has said the girls need to focus on skill acquisition and upgrading at the moment, not so much whole new floor arrangements.

Simone Williams (some girls I just worked out by hearing Tracey call out to them!) did a front 1.5 twist. I think. It's so hard to count the revolutions!

One girl was spotted doing a double layout in a harness.

As a general thing, I noted that most floor tumbles were over-rotated rather than under. At AYOF they might have appeared insipid, but in training these girls really attack their tumbles.


Britt trained full-twisting flips on the floor as well as rulfova drills. One of her combinations is to be (if I remember correctly) a front aerial to switch leap, then a rulfova. She had trouble with the rulfova for a bit today (it took Netty 6 months to get the skill, wonder how long it will take Britt...). Her dismount is a 2.5 twist.

Teeny little Zoe's dismount is a back handspring, flic, double pike but a few times she did it with a double tuck if I remember right. She was also working on an acro series but I couldn't tell whether it was a back handspring to back pike OR a back handspring to a whip that was just a bit piked... she ALSO trained, on the floor, a back handspring, flic, layout to two feet. Don't know if this was prep for her dismount or an actual acro series. I'd love to see it as an acro series, we'd have another little Monette Russo on our hands. Zoe's mum says her daughter had a wonderful time in Massilia and is happy where she's at with her gymnastics. So that's great too.

Tierra did a back handspring, back tuck that looked a little laboured. When this girl sits on the floor with her lugs tucked up, her knees measure just over her chin, not simply at her chest like you or I! Betty Okino wants her figure back...

One gymnast trained a lovely-looking Onodi-immediate cartwheel on a low beam with Tracey.

Quote of the day to a gymnast landing beam skills: "You've got small feet now but not forever!" (Tracey)


Grace... Claringbold, I think? Grace did a nice tkatchev, more than once.

The girls would do some giant swing work on a single bar, then move to another single bar over a pit to work on releases with a coach, then to the uneven bars set. Zoe and Britt looked great in their giants, and I honestly thought Britt had improved her foot work. Unfortunately, she still flexes her feet quite a bit on her releases which were a giant full to geinger and hip circle through to tkatchev. She missed the latter quite a bit but I'm sure it will get better.

Tierra stuck to practising giants and stalders on a low bar, but moved to the bar set and worked on what we think will be a clear hip circle to overshoot and handstand. At one point (I think it was her), she was doing circles around the bar in stoop position, like we have seen Krasnyanska and Ivana Hong do. Pretty impressive!


I didn't get much of a look at this. Tierra did Yurchenko fulls. Otherwise the girls did lots of drills and timers. Not much on show today, the little ones took over the vault run for quite some time, with their adorable flingy-armed runs!

At the end of the session, Monette and Steph were signing postcards that were for sale (proceeds again to fire victims) and posing for photos, as did Ash when she came along. They handed out yellow ribbons to all the girls (lined up, so teensy!) and we had a minute's silence.

It was an insightful morning, all for a good cause, and very well spent... save for me missing breakfast. I had a great time and hope this is all as informative for you as it was for me. The parents [and some schoolteachers] in attendance seemed right pleased with how the girls were going and applauded, even when it wasn't necessary.

Fellow observers of the session, please correct me if I'm wrong on any of these notes. As you know, I was juggling a video camera and notebook and my own eyes at the one time (not in a gross Hostel kind of way) so I may have got girls mixed up or counted twists incorrectly.

Big thanks to Mr Foster who handed over to me a goldmine of gymnastics magazines, many archived or out of circulation, including the now-defunct Somersault mag and an amazing 1991 commemorative edition of The Australian Gymnast after our girls placed a historic 6th at Worlds. I am beyond thrilled to now have such a collection in my possession.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This Just In...

Australia will be sending an MLC Gymnastics delegation, in addition to Emily Little, to compete at Gymnix in Canada in the first week of March.

These athletes are Amelia McGrath, Chloe Turko, Alex Byers-Armstrong, Georgia McIntosh, Clare O'Donnell, Isobel Looker, Kristina Ostojic and Georgia Wheeler.

Good luck to all the girls!

ETA: The MLC athletes will also be competing at the Gliders Invitational.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Who's Who in 2009

You might be glad to know that the A-Z of Australian Gymnastics site, my faaaaavourite resource on the web - save for - has been updated in the last few days (but I'm not on the links page? Frown.).

Profiles of senior and junior athletes as well as retired ones (sniff! So many 2008-ers!) have been updated, including national rankings and competition results as of the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival.

Love your work, girls.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Olivia's Other Occupation

Olivia Vivian has yet another feather to add to her cap. In addition to gymnastics and writing ongoing blogs, she contributes as a reporter for The Beaver Sports Show, devised and presented by Oregon State students. Looks like her short stint with the microphone on the Great Wall of China proved to be a good introduction to journalism!

Go to this link and look for Show #17, where she reports on men's basketball and Show #19, where she reports on an OSU wrestling match. Ya gotta smile as she does her 'serious reporter' face.

Olivia has returned to training after aggravating a foot injury in competition some weeks ago.

(Note: The videos may not work with Internet Explorer.)

Many thanks to Richard and to John Hendricks.Italic

You're Shorter in Person...

Official notice from the VWHPC website:

The Victorian Women’s High Performance Centre holds open days for Family and Friends to come in and view the gymnasts and see just what is involved in their training. These sessions are normally just for family and friends and are free to come and watch but on Saturday 21st February the gymnasts from the Victorian Women’s High Performance Centre would like to invite people to come along and watch training, meet the gymnasts and see our venue. Entry is by donation (notes would be preferable) which will be forwarded to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal.

So invite your family and friends to come along and help a very worthy cause.

Training hours are from 8am – 12pm

Top Floor
PC Building Swinburne University
Cnr Green and Thomas Streets

The Australian Gymnastics Blog does intend to be there and meet whoever possible without verbal diarrhoea. If you wish to come and say hello, that's great. Please don't do so with a pointy implement or a sinister invitation into your car. Besides, the day isn't about me. It's about gymnastics for a cause, so let's go with that.

The blog is love.

In other training news, Emily Little is profiled over at GA. There are some interesting little nuggets to be found in the piece:

The main objective for Little was the construction of a new floor routine which was choreographed and constructed by Stacey Umeh-Lees and Women's National Coach Peggy Liddick. Says Little of the new routine, "It doesn't really have a title, but I have called it the Warthog Song"

Whilst Little will be too young for this year's World Championships in London, her sights are well and truly set on the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Little is currently upgrading skills across all four apparatus, including upgrading to a double twisting Yurchenko on vault and including a full-in on floor.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dear Little Mez

Dear Mary-Anne Monckton,

I think you're pretty cool too.
You made my friend's day.


Big Mez
(who is actually quite little herself!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Achtung! Das ReaderBlog!

At last, a vlog from a reader. Actually, this one's more of a 'plog' (see: picture/photo blog) but the effort is greatly appreciated. Truly.

I await equally enthusiastic participants for this project. Don't be shy!


(ETA - After that special message, here's one from Gymnastics Victoria:

Gymnastics Victoria offers its support and well wishes for all our members and their families who have been affected by the fires. This is a terrible time and we, as a community, need to help one another.

I encourage all clubs/individuals to think about what they can do to assist. Suggestions which have come forward include:-

* Donate leotards, long whites, grips etc.
* Offer to sponsor a gymnast for a year/term
* Equipment to donate/lend to a club which has lost equipment.
* Other ideas are welcome.

If you or your club would like to participate, please complete the registration form here,
or contact Gymnastics Victoria on 9214 6020.)

An Appealing Visit

Thanks to the anon. poster for alerting me to the following:
I was picking up friends from NICA yesterday and noticed a sign in the VWHPC window that the gymnasts are having an open day on the 21st Feb - it said that they are normally family events and free but on this Saturday it will be open to the public and entry by donation which will go to the Bushfire Appeal - I asked the lady who put the sign up and she said she will be putting something up on the website soon.

Very thoughtful. Wonder if our Victorian gymnasts will make an appearace?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Home and A-WAIS

I love mysteries. Don't you?

The sport of Gymnastics has been involved in the filming of some local TV shows in recent weeks.

The profile of the sport, our athletes and well known health and fitness benefits have seen Australian TV networks approach Gymnastics Australia to have the sport included in the filming of future episodes of their most popular shows.

Whilst we are unable to detail the name of the shows (at the request of the networks) we will endeavour to let you know as soon as we can, of possible air dates (including any behind the scenes photos or verbal reports) from athletes or those directly involved.

We can tell you that one show featured a senior member of the Women's National Squad and both involved contestants getting into gymnastics activities.

Stay tuned for more information on these great promotions of the sport.

Evidently they can no longer shell out for Nationals to be filmed and broadcasted. But they can get our girls a guest spot on something scripted. Right. Well, I predict any of the following:

* Neighbours- Season 21, Episode 5: "Little Beam of Sunshine". Kiralee is in two minds about admitting her pregnancy to Jacksyn. Dr Karl is on temporary leave; Amber Fulljames guest stars as Dr Anne Smedgley (PhD, BSc), the wisened and well-travelled Family Planning consultant.

* So You Think You Can Dance? Semifinal: Suprise celebrity contestant Dasha Joura gets a flight to Sydney and wins an automatic place in the Grand Final by simply staring down the judges.

* Big Brother- AIS Edition: Kyle Sandilands makes smart remarks overlooking the AIS gymnastics training hall. Everybody SMS-votes for him to be evicted.

* The Shack- Olympics Special: Stephanie Rice shows you how to take perfect photographs... of yourself. Grant Hackett takes on the-stupid-male-hosts-with-stupid-stage-names in a Weetbix-eating competition. Phillippe Rizzo shows fashionable tweens how to make a beauty spot work in their favour.

* The Wiggles- A Very Wiggly Olympics: Purple Wiggle Jeff's constant sleeping deemed suspicious by drug testing officials. Lauren Mitchell steps in as a late replacement, adds Humphrey turn into 'Hot Potato' choreography.

* Packed to the Rafters- Season 2, Episode 6: "Dysfunction Junction". Quirky Son of the Equally Quirky, Borderline Neurotic Rafter Parents falls for Quirky New Neighbour Bindy (special guest star Georgia Bonora) and invites her to dinner. Quirkily, she declines, but he pursues her well into the next episode. In a quirky yet tediously inevitable fashion.

In other appearance news, Emily Little has been selected to compete at Gymnix. Lauren Mitchell will forgo the Doha World Cup in favour of the Salamunov Memorial (Maribor) World Cup in April.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nigel No-Friends

Where my vlogs at?
I'm twiddlin' my thumbs here...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Slightly More Positive News

Olivia Vivian's latest diary entry can be found here.

Some more Massilia Cup videos have surfaced (thanks, Aurelia) including Britt Greeley's floor final routine here, and Lauren Mitchell's floor and bars routines from their respective finals. Looks like that piked full-in is staying, I just wish the poor dear could control it!

At this point I wish to ask people to consider donating two very important commodities - money or your own blood - to the Red Cross who are putting both towards victims of the bushfires who sorely need resources. Both would only require a short amount of your time but would make a lifetime of difference. Also consider joining (and committing to the ideal of) the Buy a CFA Volunteer a Beer Day group at Facebook. Couldn't be more Aussie.

I wish also to paraphrase the words of one of my favourite bloggers and pop-culture wordsmiths Jess Macguire at Defamer blog, whose blogging lifestyle (with the exception of the Lily Allen condoms thing) is similar to my own-

And at times like these, waking up in the morning and writing stories about Lily Allen being unable to buy condoms without getting recognised or posting YouTube videos of angry cats just makes me feel like a complete dick, you know?. But it is what I do, much to my family's shame, and it's what you come here for.

But I want you to know that while I won't be writing much else about the fires on Defamer Australia - god knows there are enough reputable news outlets you can get information from, you don't need me throwing in my pointless two cents - please don't think that I don't care or am too obsessed with Southern Sons' hits of yesteryear to be following the situation.

Instead, go to The Age or The Herald Sun or any other news site you like, and you'll find out all you need to know. And so as Your Editor spends the week trawling through the pointless and occasionally amusing world of celebrity and pop culture, know that I do so whilst quietly keeping the folks who have lost everything during the weekend bushfires in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you'll do the same.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Community Service Announcement

I've literally just walked in the door from a weekend in Tasmania, attending a friend's wedding. I had a lovely time, but it wasn't until I switched on the news that I fathomed how worrying things were in other parts of Australia.

I wish to send my heartfelt wishes out to anyone affected by the heat and severe fires that have destroyed parts of Victoria, my lovely home state, this weekend. I have relatives in Bendigo and surrounding areas, I understand the concern some of you may be experiencing. Bendigo in particular is a special place within the Australian gymnastics community as it has hosted several national and international events that have launched the careers of many of our elite stars.

It takes great courage to look out for loves ones and seek alternative shelter in the dangerous times, and more courage to stay put in the line of fire (no pun intended) in order to protect them and your home.

I hope this coming week brings better news and circumstances for everyone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Leader Speaks (sorta.)

Well, I tried to embed the video but Blogger had a brainfart.

So here we are then.

Again, apologies for the crapness in quality (I think I also left out an answer to one of the questions). You do what you can on limited time and resources. Note the mess around me, the television noise in the background and the fact that I'm sitting on the floor.

The things I do for this sport, eh!

Now it's your turn to speak (or write, haha) your mind about the state of the sport in this country. Read the post below for all instructions. Don't be shy now, y'hear?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Australian Gymnastics Vlog

I was so impressed with the responses to the Australian Gymnastics Blog Awards and the 'Go You Big Red Fire Engine' Olympics project, and have been thinking about ways to get the fans' opinions off the message boards and into the public, given recent comments, that I have cracked onto an idea.

It's less about me counting votes this time and more about YOU having your say.

I know several of you are vocal about this sport we know and love and this is your chance to capitalise on it... in audio-visual form!


The questionnaire below is open to you, my 1500+weekly(!!!) visitors. The catch is, I'd love to see you answer it in 'vlog' form. That is, film yourself answering the questionnaire as an address to camera, be it a webcam, digital camera propped on a shelf facing you or a fancy-pants camcorder thingery on a tripod.

You don't have to introduce yourself or reveal your location if you don't want to, you don't have to show your face if you don't want to (though it'd be nice...), you can read off cue cards or a piece of paper, have a hand puppet read your answers for you, I don't mind. Do what's easiest and most comfortable. Seeing the YouTube movement take off and Harry Potter/Doctor Who/Olympics/football/etc fans take to their cams with great gusto makes me realise how passionate some people can be and how much their voices need to be heard. Be specific, be creative, offer some suggestions. It's a chance to say "Hey, GA! THIS is what we think of gymnastics in this country!"

So...! (again) Answer any or all of the questions below on camera, upload your short and sweet video to YouTube and send the URL my way ( They will be posted here very soon. Any identifying details such as your email address or location will be kept confidential if you so wish, but unfortunately whatever is on your YouTube account is your responsibility.

My own vlog will be up shortly.

Please note that all vlogs will be viewed prior to being posted here. Any material deemed inappropriate or unsuitable for public display will not be posted. Please, for the good of other readers, no swearing or violence or nudity. Save that for your drunken Christmas party videos.


1. Are you a current gymnast/gymsporter (e.g. acro, aero), former gymnast/gymsporter, a coach, an official, a 'gym mum/dad' or a fan?

2. Who is/was your favourite Australian competitor and why?

3. What do you think sets Australian gymnasts apart from gymnasts of other countries; what do you think makes our gymnasts unique?

4. Do you believe there are any aspects of the Australian gymnastics program that need to be removed or changed? What are they and why?

5. Do you believe any aspects of the Australian National Gymnastics Championships (or National Championships of the other gymsports) that need to be removed or changed? What are they and why?

6. How could the way gymnastics is promoted in Australia be changed or improved?


If it's of any help to you, within about four weeks I hope to have a celebrity endorsement of this blog. Stay tuned for that, and in the meantime... fire up yer Record buttons and show me what ya got!