Mitchell makes impressive return, as Little and Godwin battle for all-round
21 May 2015
GYMNASTICS: Australia’s best ever gymnast showed next to no signs of rust, returning to competition for the first time since injuring both ankles last year; a comeback hoped to culminate with a berth at Rio 2016.
Two time world champion Lauren Mitchell (WAIS) was impressive on floor posting a 14.075 to sit atop the leader board after qualifying.
“Even though it’s qualification, it’s still the first time I’ve been out there on the podium since the Commonwealth Games, so it’s very nerve-racking,” she said.
“Now that I feel like I’m not going to stand there and just shake with nerves, I can be a lot more confident ahead of Friday.”
The 23-year-old made pleasing progress on the beam, and whilst not in contention for all-round title, will return to Hisense Arena on Friday night, focused on building form across the two apparatus for which she is famous.
Fellow West Australian Emily Little (WAIS) was simply outstanding in her first test of the championships, the crowd on their feet as she posted the highest score of the night in women’s artistic, a 15.125 on vault.
All but faultless across the four apparatus, she did her hopes of taking out this year’s all-round crown no harm, not afraid to push the limits in search of the big scores that come with increased difficulty.
“That’s what you have to do when you’re introducing new elements into a routine,” she said.
“But I need to control myself a bit more, get my nerves down pat, and look a bit stronger and steadier across all apparatus.”
The story of the night though was Georgia Godwin (QLD), the 17-year-old going stride for stride with Little in a rivalry that will only build across the next week of competition.
The points quite literally going to Godwin on this occasion with a total score of 54.500 to Little’s 53.100.
She was consistent every time she took to the podium, particularly outstanding in bars and beam.
First time certainly a charm, notching up a 14.125 on the bars for a routine developed fresh for nationals, though Godwin won’t be patting herself on the back.
“I don’t look at the scores because if I do then I think about what I need to do next, when I should be focused on what I do in training,” she admitted.
“I know what I need to work on, and what I need to keep doing consistently.”
“The other girls are pushing me.”
In men’s artistic, it was catch me if you can for legendary veteran Naoya Tsukahara (QLD), as he led Queensland to gold in the team competition.
In a clinical performance, the 37-year-old showed incredible poise and strength throughout, typified by an imposing 15.133 on rings – the stadium right behind him with what could only be described as a signature fist pump after every routine.
He looms as the man to beat in the coming days, and it will be the furthest thing from an easy task.
The focus now moves to Friday night and the women’s and men’s all round final.