Olympian's Rekindled Love for Gymnastics

3:36 AM

Check out the awesome article that was published in The West Australian newspaper on Friday, 7th of June, 2013 about Australian Gymnast Olivia Vivian. Article and image can also be seen at: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/sport/a/-/other/17516656/olympians-rekindled-love-for-gymnastics/

When Olivia Vivian went to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 as a 19-year-old, she was the oldest woman on the gymnastics team.
Almost five years on and at an age when most gymnasts have long retired, she is far from done with the sport which has consumed close to 16 years of her life. The 23-year-old is an uneven bars specialist and has set her sights on becoming the first Australian woman to win a medal in the event at the world championships in Antwerp in October.
Vivian has been to two previous world titles, but the results she wanted have proved elusive.
Sensing this could be her last hurrah at the highest level, she is preparing to go all out later in the year.
"I have always missed out on finals by the littlest of scores," Vivian said. "I want to make sure there is no room for regret or error or there is no looking back, saying, 'If only I had done this'."
The part-time Zumba instructor said she would almost certainly have given gymnastics away had she not taken up a four-year scholarship at Oregon State University after Beijing.
Vivian originally decided to accept because she couldn't turn down a chance for a fully-funded degree, but her time there also had an unexpected result, reigniting her passion for the sport.
"It really just taught me how to love gymnastics all over again," she said.
"Gymnastically, it taught me how to perfect things and to make things big, and get those landings and get all those extra points that will make a difference in the end.
"I was challenged every day in the gym. I improved my gymnastics by going over there, when originally it had been a plan to wean off gymnastics.
"You get so mentally and physically exhausted and it is kind of a norm here in Australia after an Olympic Games that you move on. If I didn't have that college outlet, I probably would be doing something else."
Fate also intervened to prolong her career last year.
Vivian's mum, Gillian, had planned a trip to visit the US and watch the final college competitions of the year. But when she had to cancel at the last minute, Vivian decided to return to Perth to surprise her family.
The trip home coincided with the Australian Olympic trials. Vivian's decision to "have a crack" saw her win the uneven bars.
She fell just short of winning a spot on the team for London and was named as the reserve.
"Winning bars was a surprise but that is kind of what sparked my thought of, 'hey if I can podium here in Australia, I want to take that podium finish to international level for Australia'," she said.
Tragedy has also played a role in Vivian's return to Perth to pursue her sporting dreams.
Her 64-year-old father, Craig, lost his battle with a melanoma in February. Vivian had already been determined to qualify for the world titles, but losing her dad had added fuel to the fire.
"At first gymnastics helped as a coping mechanism, coming in here and keeping me busy," she said.
Vivian is currently completing an intensive 10-week block of training prior to nationals in July.
Gymnastics has come under the winning edge program and the bar has been raised on standards, meaning only those who are medal chances will be taken to Antwerp.
Vivian, who will turn 24 during trials, said she was planning a high-risk, high-reward routine.
And if things go as well as she hopes, her name could be immortalised in gymnastics.
"There is a skill that we are trying to learn in the gym and if I do complete it at world championships I will be the first to do it and it will be called the Vivian," she revealed. "That would be pretty awesome."

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