Gymnastics World Cup to inspire future generations
15 February 2017
GYMNASTICS: There is never a more appropriate time for a world class event to land on Australian shores than at the start of a new Olympic cycle.
So it is no surprise Gymnastics Australia has welcomed the International Gymnastics Federation’s (FIG) decision to make Melbourne a stop on the Individual Apparatus World Cup circuit with open arms.
Artistic gymnasts from nine different countries, including Olympic and World Champions, will flock to Hisense Arena this week for the inaugural Melbourne Gymnastics World Cup.
London 2012 Olympian Emily Little will headline the 12-gymnast strong Australian Team, competing in three out of the four women’s events: the beam, floor and vault.
“I'm really excited to have been selected to compete in the first Melbourne World Cup,” Little said.
“Being selected onto the team is an honour for me and it always feels special competing at home in Australia, infront of my friends and fellow Aussies.”
Competing in the men’s vault and parallel bars, 2014 Australian Youth Olympian Clay Stephens says the event is just what Australia needs to spur gymnasts towards Tokyo.
“Men’s gymnastics in Australia is progressing, becoming more and more competitive, which is exactly what we need in the lead up to the 2020 Olympic Games,” Stephens said.
“The more exposure Australia’s gymnasts get to international competition, the more comfortable and capable they will become on an international stage.
“I am looking forward to being exposed to the world’s best, while also showing the world my best.”
Little and Stephens both agree having the event in Melbourne will inspire the next generation of gymnasts.
“I believe the younger gymnasts with benefit most from the World Cup,” Little said.
“Being able to see how world class gymnasts train and compete is a huge benefit.”
“There are very few opportunities for younger gymnasts to watch world class competition in Australia,” Stephens added.
“Even as a senior gymnast, I am always inspired and driven by watching my competitors and their ever-improving gymnastics, so I think it will be of enormous benefit for Australia’s emerging gymnasts to be given the opportunity to be amazed, inspired and encouraged right at their doorstep.”
2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Luke Wardsworth will represent Australia in the floor apparatus and is a reserve for the pommel horse.
Competing in his home town, the Melbournian is excited to see his sport reach a larger audience.
“For an upcoming gymnast there is nothing better than to see the best in the world at their home country - it is so motivating.
“I think and hope the event will bring gymnastics into the limelight a bit more and show it off to a wider audience.
“It is one of the best sports in the world, it's the hardest sport there is with balance, flexibility and strength all needed to get to an elite level.”
The new format will see one World Cup held in each host city - including Cottbus (Germany), Baku (Azerbaijan) and Doha (Qatar) - every year for the next four years.
The events to be held in 2017 and 2018 will serve as part of the 2016-2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics Individual Apparatus World Cup Series; while the events hosted in 2019 and 2020 will serve as qualifying competitions for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
“I think this is a really smart idea,” Little said in regards to the new competition program.
“With the new FIG World Cup format, there are a series of events that contribute towards an individual selection to the next Olympics Games.
“I’m looking forward to having lots of amazing gymnasts from different countries jump on the World Cup circuit, and it will be exciting to have those gymnasts in Melbourne each year.”
According to Little, the event will be one for the spectators as well as the competitors.
“Get ready to see some high quality gymnastics, with gymnasts from Japan, Hungary, China, New Zealand, Australia and more; including Sanne Wevers the current Olympic beam champion and Krisztian Berki, the 2012 Olympic champion on pommel horse.
“Aly Raisman, from the US is a two-time Olympic team champion and she is our Melbourne World Cup ambassador so it will be interesting to hear her thoughts on the event and to see her around the Hisense arena.”
Qualifications will be held on Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 February. The top eight athletes on each apparatus will then advance to the finals which will be held on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 February.
Friday night’s opening night of the finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Channel 506 from 6pm, with delayed coverage of Saturday night’s final being broadcast on Fox Sports Channel 501 from 10pm.
Michael Mercieca: horizontal bar, rings, parallel bar reserve
Mitchell Morgans: parallel bars, horizontal bar
Chris Remkes: floor, pommel horse, vault
Clay Stephens: vault, parallel bars
Michael Tone: pommel horse, rings
Luke Wadsworth: floor, pommel horse reserve
Georgia Godwin: floor
Naomi Lee: vault
Emily Little: beam, floor, vault
Rianna Mizzen: uneven bars
Emma Nedov: beam
Georgia-Rose Brown: uneven bars