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Gymnastics wrap: Gymnasts proud of Rio efforts

24 August 2016

GYMNASTICS: Australia's three Rio Olympians will return home proud of their achievements in Brazil but uncertain about the immediate future with the exception of Danielle Prince.

Prince, who was the only Commonwealth athlete in the rhythmic gymnastics competition courtesy of a quota spot, has contested her one and only Olympics but she plans to compete in the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast.

However, dual Olympians Larrissa Miller and Blake Gaudry will both take some time out before deciding their future in the competition arena.

While the trio did not qualify for any Olympic finals, they all took something out of their Rio experience.

Miller, 25, Australia's sole artistic representative with Australia not qualifying a team for the first time in 28 years, was the first to compete and her score of 14.533 (difficulty of 6.1) was one of her best ever on uneven bars.

Her following floor routine (difficulty of 6.4 if executed) was near faultless until the final seconds coming out of a difficult tumble. The fault attracted a full 1.0 point deduction, leaving her with a score of 12.733. The scores saw her finish 30th overall in the bars and 67th on the floor.

“The Rio Olympics has been a truly incredible journey,” Miller said.

“I honestly think I enjoyed this Olympics more than London. 

"Working with (coach) John (Hart) and being in the mixed group of girls I was with, was something really unique and special.

“Apart from my fall on floor I loved every second of being out on the world’s biggest stage doing what I love. “There is nothing like being a part of a multi-sport Australian team.” MIiller said she had no definite plans for the future post-Rio.

“As for now, I'll go home and take some time out; have a bit of a break and come back when I'm ready," she said.

“Spend some time with my family and friends and hang out with some of my favourite little humans (my three nephews).

“I intend to keep training but at this stage I'm not sure when I'll be back in the gym. Probably won't be too far away.

“I would love I go into the gym and play around for a while push my body, test my limits and basically just see what I am capable of.

“That's something you can't do during comp season, so I'm excited for that. 

"Who knows, maybe I'll get on a beam and give vault a crack! Just for fun.”

 Gaudry, 24, drew on “lessons from London” to steer himself to 13th place in the men’s individual trampoline today, after he had to overcome a false start in his second routine.

Gaudry, who was in fifth position after his opening compulsory routine, fell agonisingly short (2.21 points) of qualifying in a top eight spot when he had to re-start his second routine and finished with a score 2.5 points lower than he had been aiming for. Had he nailed that score he would have qualified eighth.

In his Olympic debut in London in 2012 he was ninth after the first routine, then fell on his seventh skill in his second routine and finished 13th overall.

"For me, getting to Rio was a lot harder and tougher then London," said Gaudry, who completed his Masters in Architecture last year.

"The trampoline program went through a lot of changes which meant that to continue I had to manage and support myself to a much larger extent. 

"I had to rely heavily on my family and the generosity of the community.

"It's hard to be disappointed knowing that I got here despite the uncertainties that kept arising throughout the cycle

"It wasn't the result I was hoping for but the routines were strong, I put up a good fight and I'm satisfied knowing that."

Gaudry said he is in a completely different position now post-Rio than after the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

"After London my focus was straight towards Rio and getting their and to prove that I can contend," he said.

"It was disappointing to get all the way to London and not finish my routines.

"I guess I sort of wanted redemption; something no other Australian trampolinist has had before - no one has gone to two Games, so to get here I'm pretty proud."

 Gaudry said the Rio Olympics have been a completely different experience to London.

“I feel I have got a lot out of it and it's hard to not want to experience another or more,” he said.

“It’s addictive, competing on the world stage and laying it all on the line.

“This time however I am older now, I don't have the support needed to continue at the same level and so my priorities need to change a little. I need to find work - get an income so I can continue.

“I still love the sport, I still feel like I have got things to offer and can still improve - I'm not ready to walk away just yet.

“In our sport you can easily continue up into your late 20s and a lot of people do, but if I want to continue I need to focus on other things in the short term.”

Prince, 25, narrowly missed selection for the London Games in 2012 so her Olympic debut in Rio was 14 years in the making.

As such she has no plans to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo but for the Brisbane gymnast, the opportunity to compete close to home at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast is a certainty.

"For rhythmic, the Commonwealth Games is the benchmark competition and 2018 is incredibly enticing being in my home state," she said.

"I will take some time off after the Olympics. With gymnastics it is about what your body is telling you to do, not your mind. You put your body under so much stress.”

Prince is also keen to return to university and work towards finishing her teaching degree as well as continuing her practical teaching work at a local primary school at Camp Hill in Brisbane’s north.

Prince said competing in the Commonwealth Games and World University Games in the lead-up to Rio had prepared her for her Olympic debut.

“I was prepared for the environment; I felt comfortable; not overwhelmed,” she said.

"The Olympics is the pinnacle so to perform in that arena and under that pressure was an incredible experience.

“I loved every minute of it. All I wanted to do was to perform to the best of my ability and I pretty much did that.”

Prince overcame a nervous start in the morning session with a small fumble at the start of her hoop routine which saw her score 14.5 (D 6.9, E 7.6) to back up with a solid ball routine and a score of 15.25 (D 7.35, E 7.9).

She saved her best for the last two routines in the afternoon and session with scores of 15.716 (D 7.65 , E 8.066) in the clubs and 15.55 (D 7.55 , E 8.0) in ribbon.

Prince knew she was not in contention to qualify for a top 10 finals spot but was aiming for no mistakes and scores in the 15s, with a small error in her first routine the only setback to that goal.

“When you walk out you are pretty focused; but once you finish can take it all in and you see your family and everything up there and that was pretty special,” she said.

“I said to myself before I competed; well before selection actually, that I’m not an Olympian until I finish my ribbon. Now I’ve finished my ribbon routine I am an Olympian.

“It was amazing. That was 14 years in the making."

Tracie Edmondson

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