After showing up at some World Cup competitions, including the one in their home country in Melbourne, the Australian gymnasts got together once more for their National Championships, which took place last week, from May 22nd through to May 28th.
Among the seniors, Emily Little took the all-around title with a total of 106.750 after prelims and all-around finals. On vault, she received scores in the mid to high-14s for her DTY both days, while on bars she posted in the mid to high-12s despite two hit routines due to her low level of difficulty (just 4.7 D-score). Floor was also a good event for her, as usual, scoring in the low to mid-13s both days thanks to solid performances. Beam was where she differed a little from prelims to finals, posting in the low-12s on day one after a fall but improving her score on day two with a hit routine that brought her a low-13. After missing the Olympics in 2016, Emily seems to be planning to compete for another quad and is looking very strong across all four events. With this result here, she most likely secured her spot for the Worlds team, especially given her recent World Cup medals, and is in a very good position to fight for a strong all-around finish in Montreal.
Just tenths behind Little was Georgia-Rose Brown with 106.400. Much like Little, she had very consistent performances throughout both days, with beam the main difference. On vault, she showed a FTY to post in the mid-13s, while on bars she managed to reach the mid to high-13s after hitting her routine both days. During day one she unfortunately fell on beam, receiving just a mid-12, but she was able to recover in finals to score in the mid-13s after a solid exercise. Floor was also a bit different between both days, as she received a 4.8 D-score in prelims but just 4.5 in finals, posting in the low-13s on day one and high-12s on day two, mostly due to this difficulty gap. Also a regular on the Australian team during the last quad, Georgia was also left at home after her country only managed to grab a spot for Rio, which eventually went to Larissa Miller. She too seems to be ready to continue with the sport and hopefully she can have a bit more success this time around.
In third place was another regular from last quad, Rianna Mizzen, with a total of 104.200 after posting in the mid-52s in prelims but scoring nearly a point below in finals. On vault, she received mid-14s both days after presenting a successful DTY, while on bars, her best event, she had issues and scored below her potential. In prelims she received a score in the mid-12s with just 4.8 in difficulty, which suggests she probably had a fall and didn’t get credited for the skill, and then in finals, though she managed to increase her D-score to 5.6, she still didn’t score above the low-13s so she probably fell once again. On beam, she posted in the high-12s on day one and low-12s on day two, both scores indicating she most likely fell on this event as well, and lastly on floor she received a mid-12 in prelims and a high-11 in finals, also counting mistakes and probably falls into her routine. Overall, this wasn’t Rianna’s best meet and she had multiple mistakes throughout both days. However, she had a solid DTY and her bars are also great when hit so she’s still one to watch for these two events alone.
Outside the podium, Talia Folino was fourth with 103.375 after all-around scores in the 51-52 range, possibly including some falls both days. Over three points behind her was Erin Modaro in fifth place with 100.075 after nearly identical scores in prelims and finals, both around 50, after falls on bars and beam. In sixth place was Shannon Neate with 97.850 after scoring below 50 both days due to falls and mistakes, while Elly Baynes was seventh with 97.700 after scores in the 48-49 range, counting a fall on beam on day one but hitting all her routines in finals albeit with super low D-scores. Kate McDonald was then eighth with an aggregated total of 96.200 following AA scores in the low-47s and high-48s, featuring some mistakes and falls as well.
Among the 15-year-old juniors, Stella Ashcroft of New Zealand was first with 94.350 after receiving a low-46 in prelims due to multiple falls but recovering well in finals to score almost two points higher, despite still counting some issues. Behind her, and receiving the title of National Champion given Ashcroft’s nationality, was Romi Brown in second with 91.775. She actually lead the competition following prelims despite some mistakes but had a disastrous performance in finals, falling on pretty much every event and more than once sometimes. In third place was Georgia Fragiadakis with 89.475 after scores in the 44-45 range mostly due to super low difficulty as her highest D-score was just 3.5. This was a very weak field overall, with only a handful of gymnasts competing, and they were actually surpassed by their younger teammates most of the time. Though they will be seniors next year, this is surely not the best picture of Australian gymnastics and we should not look at this as the premonition of a terrible future for them.
Showing a much higher level of gymnastics were the 14-year-old juniors, which featured a very composed field of girls. Isla Ross eventually came out on top, achieving a total of 99.375 after a score in the low-49s on day one and just breaking the 50s mark on day two. Quite a long way behind, in second place was Meisie Bakhach with 95.350 after mistakes on bars and beam both days, totaling in the 47-48 range. Despite her low D-scores, Elena Chipizubov managed to take the bronze medal with 94.425 after hitting all four events in finals to post in the mid-47s, though she had some issues on bars in prelims and scored in the 46s. Turning senior just a year before the Olympics, these girls are usually the most likely to succeed at the end of the quad, as they managed to reach their peak right on time. Therefore, there’s no reason to rush them into high difficulty or skills they can’t quite handle yet. For now it’s just a matter of gaining experience and confidence and difficulty will come with time and maturity.
As for the youngest competitors here, the Juniors in the 13 years old category, Samantha Olivier took the title with 90.575, after scores around 45 both days, though she had multiple falls and couldn’t exactly reach her true potential. In second place was Isabelle McQueen with 90.250, having issues everywhere in finals after a mostly solid day in prelims. The bronze medal belonged to Tylah Otrupcek who achieved a total of 89.725 after a high-43 on day one and a high-45 on day two. While they are alsreayd competing at the national level, these are all very young gymnasts, barely into their teenage years. For now they just need to perfect their basics and get comfortable in a competition atmosphere and soon they will be able to increase their difficulty and improve their overall scores.
After the all-around competition was finished, the event finals begun with Little winning another gold medal, this time on vault, after receiving an average score of 14.325 for her DTY and full twisting Tsukahara. This final only had three more finalists, given the demand for vaults from different families, and their difficulty scores where much lower than Little’s, ranging from 3.7 to 4.6, though most of them hit their skills. In the end, Amie Martin was second with 12.750, followed by Cassidy Ercole in third with 12.525 after some issues on her second vault, and lastly Teliah Farren-Price in fourth with 12.487.
On bars, Mizzen finally got her redemption after somewhat lackluster performances in prelims and all-around finals, taking the title with a great score of 14.500 after hitting her 6.0-difficulty routine, featuring her giant connection of Weiler kip to Weiler kip half to Maloney to Hindorff to pak, a van Leeuwen and a toe-on full to full-in dismount landed with just a tiny hop back. Once again, the gap between the champion and the other medalists was quite noticeable both in terms of difficulty and execution, with McDonald and Little tying for silver with just 12.775, both showing difficulty scores in the high-4s, well below Mizzen’s level.
After her all-around silver medal, Brown managed to take home two golds on beam and floor after hitting her routines cleanly and capitalizing on others’ mistakes. On beam, she received a 12.500 for a performance that featured an illusion turn with a big wobble and an interesting connection of side aerial to switch leap to Y turn, though she broke it at the beginning and probably didn’t get credit for it, finishing with a double twist dismount with a hop back. In a final marred by falls from pretty much everyone, Shannon Farrell managed to take silver with 11.875, counting a fall of her own, and Modaro was third with 11.775, also counting falls and mistakes in her routine.
As for floor, Brown nearly reached the 13s, scoring a 12.975 for her elegant performance that featured a Memmel turn to illusion, a front layout full with a stumble forward, a 2.5 twists with some steps forward, a double L turn and a stuck double tuck to finish, though she had a large knee separation in the air. In second place was Jade Vella-Wright with 12.425 after showing a whip to double tuck, also with some cowboying in the air but a stuck landing, a front layout full to front tuck with a hop forward, a double twist with a small hop forward, a considerably short Memmel attempt, and a stuck double pike to end her competition. As for the bronze medal, it was split between three (!) gymnasts after Baynes, Modaro and Mizzen all scored 12.375 for their respective exercises. Leading qualifier and World Cup medalist on the event, Little was expected to also win gold here, but instead finished last after not completing her routine. She planned to upgrade her opening double layout to a full twisting double layout but when the time came, she overtwisted the skill, doing a double twisting double layout but landing hard on her head. After this, she opted not to finish her routine and eventually received a 2.600 score, which put her in last place. She has since resorted to twitter to confirm she didn’t sustain any injuries after the fall and that she merely stopped the routine to avoid unnecessary risks.
Among the 15-years-olds, Romi Brown took all four event titles, with a 12.350 on vault for her clean FTY and Yurchenko layout, though she received a two points deduction for showing vaults from the same family, a rule that usually only applies to senior gymnasts but that the Australian federation has decided to extent to the older juniors. She then scored 11.600 on bars, after a hit routine, 11.025 on beam due to some major mistakes and 12.200 on floor, after another solid performance. On vault she was followed by Tahlia Hughes who received an 11.638, also hitting her vaults but showing a low level of difficulty, while on bars the silver medal went to Fragiadakis with 10.775 and the bronze belonged to Ashcroft with 10.200, both showing low difficulty and also some execution issues. On beam Hughes managed another silver medal despite scoring just below 11 after mistakes in her exercise and Maia Fishwick from New Zealand got the bronze with 10.150, also due to execution issues. On floor, the silver medal belonged to Ashcroft who posted 11.400 after some mistakes and Hughes was third with 10.975 due to her low difficulty level.
In the second junior category, the medalists were much more distributed with a different champion on every event. On vault, Zoe McNamara was first with an average of 12.612, followed by Kate Sayer and Danielle Latter in second after both scored 12.375. On bars, Ross took the title with 12.125, Sayer got silver with 11.675 after some mistakes and Sophie Prince was third with 11.375 due to her low difficulty. Chipizubov won beam with 12.700 and a quite respectable 5.2 D-score, while Madeleine Verdon was second with 12.125 after a low difficulty but very nice routine and Ross got another medal with a bronze here after scoring 12.100 for her performance that most likely had a fall or a major mistake. On floor, all three medalists tied in difficulty (4.3 D-score) so the medals were decided based on their different levels of execution with Prince taking the title with 12.175, Miriana Perkins finishing second with 12.125 and Chipizubov getting third with 12.000.
The younger gymnasts didn’t have event finals but instead crowned their event champions based on the total score of each apparatus after the two days of all-around competition, meaning Clara Kolm won the vault title with a total of 25.050, Ariana Salaivao of New Zealand was first on bars with 21.300, Otrupcek took gold on beam with 23.600 and Olivier won floor with 23.550.
After these championships, the Australian Federation named their National teams with Emily Little, Georgia Rose Brown, Rianna Mizzen, Talia Folino, Erin Modaro, Shannon Neate and Georgia Godwin taking the senior spots, while the Junior team was composed of Meisie Bakhach, Elena Chipizubov, Mirana Perkins, Kate Sayer and Sophie Prince. As they prepare for World Championships in October, the Australian girls are hoping to recover from a slightly underwhelming quad and return to the top of the sport in the next few years. With this year’s competition focussing on individuals rather than a team, they will probably opt to send strong finals contenders, while also giving some of the younger girls the opportunity to compete on a big stage and give them the experience they will need in the future. As it is, they should be able to perform well in Montreal and hopefully make some finals to start their journey back to once again become one of the best teams in the world of gymnastics.
Full results here.