Hi Chloe, Welcome to the Spotlight On series.
You are our first gymnast to be focused on!
I would love to explore what gymnastic means to you and what being a gymnast involves.
So if I may ask, how did you get your start in gymnastics?
When I was little I had lots of energy and I kept climbing things, doing hand stands and cartwheels so mum thought gymnastics might be a good sport for me. We lived in Camperdown at the time so mum had to drive me all the way to Warrnambool once a week. When I started I moved into the competitive program and started doing more hours.
What is your favourite gymnastic discipline?
Uneven bars in my favourite because it feels like flying and its fun.
Is there any manoeuvres that are particularly difficult to execute or hard to learn?
As you go through the levels the skills get harder. A lot of people have trouble getting their kip on bars at level 5. Im level 6 and I just got my kip cast to handstand and my clear hips and toe circle to handstand. Im also learning to do giants on the wooden bar which are fun and a bit scary. A fly away off the bar is tricky too.
How often do you train?
I train 18 hours a week over 4 days. I do some of the training in Warrnambool and some in Geelong. I don’t go to school on Tuesdays, I train in Geelong instead and do school work at the library. I also do a ballet class at Melissas dance elements to help with my posture and artistic dance skills.
How often do you compete?
There are lots of different competitions around victoria. I usually do about five. Then there is also a regional Qualifier and victorian championships. This year I am also competing in the trans bass trial to see if I can qualify to represent Victoria in a national competition.
Do you have to travel far to compete?
Living in Warrnambool means we have to do a lot of travelling for gymnastics. Most of our competitions for level 6 are held in Melbourne or Geelong. Its fun though because we stay at different places and travel with team mates.
What are your long term aspirations, do you have any particular aims or big goals?
I just like to keep challenging myself with new skills. If you focus too much on scores and winning competitions it can make you really nervous. Its really important just to focus on yourself and not compare your self to others. If you work hard and never give up you will always keep on improving. My big goals are to one day represent Victoria at nationals. We have had two gymnast from warrnambool, Maddy Cook and Amy Johnstone achieve this in the last two years. Id like to follow in their footsteps. Id also like to make it to level 10 and be a coach one day.
Is there anyone else in your family that have done gymnastics?
No, I was the first, but my sisters do it too now. My mum also has become a coach and a judge since I started.
Is Warrnambool and District an easy, or hard place to pursue your training and competition?
There are two divisions in the Australian Levels program, Division 1 unlimited hours and Division 2 limited hours of training. Warrnambool Springers only offer Division 2 up to Level 6 for woman artistic gymnastics. This division doesn’t allow you to compete with the hope of qualifying for state championships and to represent Victoria. This is something I would like to do, so I now complete for Geelong YMCA. I am lucky to have the support of Warrnambool Springers, Emmanuel College, my parents and my grandparents to make this happen for me because its a big commitment to travel to Geelong two times a week to train.
Can you tell us more about your coach/s?
I have lots of coaches because I train at two gymnastics clubs. Sian Ryan and Sam Dayman are my current coaches at Warrnambool Springers. Tessa Dayman was also my coach at the start of the year. Fattah is my main coach in Geelong. They are all great coaches with a lot of experience. Tessa encouraged me to pursue my dreams in Geelong. Fattah and the coaches in Geelong have been very welcoming. Sam and the warrnambool gymnastics club let me train with a different level in Warrnambool on Fridays so that I can fit more training in.
You’re heading to Melbourne for a VIS day, what are you hoping to learn from this experience?
I like hanging out with all of the other athletes and getting to know different people from different sports. I haven’t been to the Victorian Institute of Sport before so I am interested to see what it has to offer athletes. I also love fitness testing.
For someone wanting to try gymnastic in our area, who would they speak to, where should they go to give it a try?
The best place to try gymnastics if you live in Warrnambool is the Warrnambool Gymnastics Centre. There is also a really good gymnastics club in Hamilton and Portland. All of the clubs support each other and they all have great coaches and great facilities.
For someone who’s never done gymnastics, can you explain what a training session would be like?
Like football and netball there are different types of gymnasts based on ability. ALP being like A Grade, Gymstar like B grade and recreational classes is like C grade. Both ALP and Gymstar have a competitive program affiliated with them. ALP is more strict with skill requirements and Gymstar is more about joining in and getting the chance to experience competing. If you do a recreational class you will do one hour a week of gymnastics. The program changes each week so you get to do all of the apparatus. Gymstar and ALP train more hours. A training session for me usually starts with strength training. Then we spend half an hour on each apparatus either practicing skills or learning new skills. On Saturdays in Geelong we also do pilates. Every gymnastics session we do also has some flexibility exercises.
What has been your favourite competition so far?
Ive had lots that have been really fun. I remember when I was in level 2 I was really excited because I got a pink trophy! I also really like competing at the Victorian Championships. It feels really professional. It’s held at the Geelong arena and you march on to music. All of the best gymnasts are there so its really competitive. I like watching everybody else compete too.
What has been your favourite result in all of your events so far?
My favourite result was at the Victorian championships last year when I came 4th overall in my age group. I also came second on bars.
Can you tell us a bit about your family?
I have two sisters. They both do gymnastics too. My youngest sister Milly is 8 and is in level 2. My other sister is 9 and she is in level 3. They both compete for Warrnambool. We live with our Mum and Dad and our puppy Harley.
Do you have to eat special foods or do you have any specific things that you like to do before each competition?
I like to eat food that will give me energy before I compete. I actually eat like that all the time because I train so many hours. Sometimes over the summer I loose too much weight and I become lacking in energy and really moody. When that happens I eat lots of carbs and dairy and drink protein shakes after training.
Before and after a competition, do you have stretches or exercises that you do to keep your body and mind fit?
Before every competition our team runs through a really long warm up that we all know. We do lots of stretching, running, jumping, hopping and all of our skills. After competitions I usually stretch and I always try and stretch between apparatus because there is a lot of waiting around in gymnastics and it shard to keep your body competition ready.
Can you explain about how SWAS supports you in both your training and your sport?
I’ve been really enjoying being a part of SWAS. The sessions about nutrition and sports psychology have been really interesting but my favourite part is the weekly strength sessions at momentum fitness. Its a different type of training than I usually do and I like training with people from different sports. I also love the fitness testing.
And lastly is there anyone you would like to thank today?
I am really lucky to have a supportive family that love gymnastics as much as I do. So a big thank you to mum, dad, my grandma, my nan and poppa and my sisters for supporting me while I reach for my dreams.
I would also like to thank the coaches at Warrnambool Springers for their support and encouragement and the Warrnambool Council for letting me fit my Warrnambool training sessions around my Geelong training sessions.
I am also really lucky to have the support of my teachers at Emmanuel College in helping me catch up on school work I have missed. Id also like to thank Melissa my dance teacher and the staff at Physipole Warrnambool. I do a stretch class there with the amazing Jo and I also do an aerial class for a bit of fun when I can fit it in.