- Georgia-Rose Brown (VIC)
- Larrissa Miller (VIC)
- Lauren Mitchell (WA)
- Mary-Anne Monckton (VIC)
- Olivia Vivian (WA)
- Jayden Bull (VIC)
- Michael Mercieca (QLD)
- Mitchell Morgans (QLD)
- Naoya Tsukahara (QLD)
- Luke Wadsworth (VIC)
"We're very excited to welcome Nikola to the Gym Terp family,” head coach Brett Nelligan said. “The team and staff have been eagerly awaiting her arrival all summer. She is a well-rounded gymnast excelling on vault and beam, and her bar routine is among the most difficult in the world. Nikola’s experience competing on the world stage will serve her well in the collegiate arena."
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."
|The winning team, courtesy of Brittany Lane for Olympics.com.au. Original image here.|
After 12 years preparing for her first Olympic Games, WAIS gymnast Emily Little will take her time before deciding if she is willing to commit to another four years for Rio de Janeiro.
Post-Olympic soul-searching is nothing new for Australia's sporting elite, but the answers are more complicated for female gymnasts, who also have to consider physical changes which could inhibit their ability to remain in the sport while upgrading their skills for the next Olympic cycle.
At 18, Little was the youngest in the team and has the best chance of extending her career for four more years. Two-times Olympic teammates Lauren Mitchell and Ashleigh Brennan, both 21, and Georgia Bonora, 22, are unlikely to make it to a third Games.
After a week back home from London, Little will be discussing her future with her family and coaches after anchoring Australia's Olympic campaign with a 15th in the individual all-around competition - up from 23rd at last year's world championships.
The team disappointingly slipped in the world rankings from sixth to 10th after crucial mistakes on the floor and beam during team qualifying. But Little was rock solid on all four apparatus.
"It has been a long haul getting to London," she said. "What I have to decide is whether my body will hold up and whether I want to take on the physical and metal challenge of another four years of dedicated training."
Little is also unsure whether she will be too old to compete at elite level at 22, even though there are some outstanding athletes who have remained in the sport well into their 20s.
"I still love learning new skills and that is what would be required to upgrade my routines," she said.
"I produced my best scores at the Olympics but there is room for more improvement."
Little shared the major medals at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games with WAIS training partner Mitchell and could be encouraged to look towards Glasgow in 2014.
But for now she will be spending as much time as possible learning to drive.
"Mum has spent the past 10 years driving me from Armadale to WAIS for training every day and is looking forward to me getting behind the wheel myself," she said.
An article on The Inner West Courier catches up with retired Australian Rhythmic Gymnast Naazmi Johnston as she returned to visit her former school. You can see the full article here, but here's what Naazmi has been up to (note that it was a Rhythmic Gymnastics Performance Group and not a Dance Group):
Johnston retired from competing at 22, and now coaches in the sport.
"When I am coaching, I encourage them with whatever ability they have," she said.
"They don't have to be the best to get something out of what they are doing. It's about training hard and always setting goals, and working towards those goals."
She is also working on several other projects with new opportunities opening up after performing as part of a dance group on Australia's Got Talent last year.
One is a 49 kilogram pocket rocket gymnast and the other is a weightlifter three times her size, but both possess the key to Olympic Games success - genetic predisposition.
Lauren Mitchell and Damon Kelly have almost nothing in common and their sports require completely different skills. But an Australian Institute of Sport senior physiologist, Philo Saunders, says their respective genes are crucial to becoming world-class athletes.
So, what makes an athlete perfect for their sport? It is a combination of oxygen capacity, muscle make-up and the hunger for success.
For world champion Mitchell, it is her speed, flexibility and aerial awareness. For weightlifter Kelly, it is his ''big quads and big arse''.
''Sometimes you get someone who breaks the mould. But if you're genetically not disposed to a certain sport, you're just not going to be good at it,'' Saunders says.''Some people are just faster because they've got that fast-twitch muscle fibre make-up. You can change it to a certain degree, but there's a limit you reach while others just push through it naturally.''
The breakdown is pretty simple.
When Saunders gets athletes in the AIS laboratory and tests anthropometry, body composition, height, weight, muscle mass and maximal oxygen capacity, he discovers their full potential.Lauren Mitchell is the perfect size for gymnastics - 158 centimetres tall and weighs 49 kilograms - and is flexible.The average age of the Australian gymnastics squad is 21 and the average weight is 49kg, making them some of the smallest in London.''Gymnastics has really evolved over the last three Olympiads; it's no longer the little, mini, pixie 14-year-olds,'' Australian head coach Peggy Liddick says.''You need the vaulters who are the short, fireplug, pocket rockets.''The shorter they are, the faster they twist and turn … and pound for pound, they're probably as strong as a 100 kilogram weightlifter and can perhaps even lift more.''I want guts. I want the kid climbing the curtains and up the poles. gymnastics is about being courageous.''Lauren Mitchell fits all the body types, but she's not that co-ordinated. She's like a bulldog, she just won't quit or let go.''
Australian Olympic Trampoline reserve, Shaun Swadling (Newcastle), has been forced to withdraw from his non-travelling reserve commitments after injuring himself at training last night.
Swadling dislocated his knee at training in Adelaide yesterday, and was transported to Flinders Medical Centre where he was assessed and the dislocation was corrected.
Adam Sachs, High Performance Manager for Gymnastics Australia, said Swadling had suffered major soft tissue injury but no bone injury has been sustained.
“Shaun spent the night under observation but is likely to be released this morning following advice from medical staff. Our main priority is focusing on Shaun’s recovery and ensuring he has the proper support,” said Sachs.
Gymnastics Australia will look to name a replacement non-travelling reserve within a week.