Glasgow 2015: team Australia preview

When it was announced that no Australian woman would compete at the 2013 world championships, fans from all over the world were worried about the country’s future in the sport. However, it turned out that there was no reason to, since the team came back strong in 2014, winning a silver team medal and showing strong routines at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. After that, they surprised us all when they managed to qualify into the worlds team finals over the much stronger team from Germany. They did not have the most difficult routines but they managed to execute them cleanly and to show consistency and they were rewarded for it. Now, they have an even bigger goal. Just like every other country, they want to qualify a full team for next year’s Olympics. Going into last year’s worlds, we had a clear image of the team’s potential since we had seen them competing at multiple international competitions, like the Jesolo Trophy, the Pacific Rim championships and the Commonwealth Games. Unfortunately, they didn’t participate in many meets this year and we barely got any coverage of their national championships, so there were lots of question marks regarding the team but after podium training it was clear that Australia is ready to fight. The country’s worlds team includes: Olympian and Commonwealth champion Emily Little, Olympian, Commonwealth medalist and world finalist Larrissa Miller, Commonwealth and World Cup medalist Mary – Anne Monckton, Pacific Rim medalist and world team member Georgia – Rose Brown, world team member Kiara Munteanu, national All Around champion Madelaine Leydin and two times national All Around champion Georgia Godwin.

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One of the most experienced athletes of the team is Olympian Emily Little, who is one of the many veterans attempting a comeback this year. She returned to competition at last year’s Mexican Open and she has done a great job since then, looking a bit stronger at every competition. In Mexico, she won the All Around silver medal and then, she participated in the American Cup, where she posted a respectable All Around Total and the Jesolo Trophy. She was impressive at the Australian championships, placing second in the All Around and on floor exercise, third on balance beam and first on vault. She is very valuable to the team, mainly because she has strong tumbling and she is their only athlete to perform a double twisting yurchenko, so they are relying on her on vault and floor. Emily could also end up qualifying in the All Around finals.

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She will be joined by her London teammate Larrissa Miller, who is a bars and floor specialist. She had an excellent season in 2014. She became the Australian uneven bars champion, she won a silver medal on bars at the Commonwealth Games and she was Australia’s only event finalist at the world championships, where she grabbed the final spot to the floor exercise finals, surprising fans from all over the world.

Triger warning: sexual assault Larrissa only started training again in July, because she had to deal with an extremely serious issue during the start of the year. She recently revealed that she was sexually abused by an extended family member between the ages of 5 and 16 and she was going through the court process in the beginning of the year. Her abuser is now in jail. She said that she took the brave decision to open up because she wanted to take advantage of her impact in the gymnastics community in order to raise awareness for sexual abuse and she is now an ambassador for child protection organisation Bravehearts. “I just wanted people to know that it’s okay to speak out and get the help and support they need.” she said. It obviously takes incredible courage to talk about such a traumatic experience and Larrissa really deserves all the respect and the admiration in the world for doing something so difficult and so important. End of potentially triggering content

We have not seen her competing since last year but she looked solid during podium training and if past performances are any indication, Miller is going to impress at Glasgow.

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Last year, Mary – Anne Monckton, who did not manage to make the Olympic team in 2012, was one of the most successful athletes of the Australian team, winning a silver beam medal at the Doha World Cup and at the Commonwealth Games while also becoming the Australian national beam champion and representing her country at worlds. Unfortunately, 2015 has not been nearly as easy for her, since she had ankle problems and needed to have two ankles reconstructions. Thankfully, she managed to recover in time and she competed at the Summer Universiade and the friendly meet against China, where she earned a bronze medal on balance beam. Now, she seems to have regained her full difficulty, she has also upgraded her bars routine and she is ready to help her country qualify a full team to next year’s Olympics.

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The lovely Georgia – Rose Brown, who has captivated the world with her elegance and artistry has also not competed a lot during 2015. The alternate of the 2012 Olympic team had a was very busy 2014 since she competed at the Nadia Comaneci Invitational, the Pacific Rim championships, the Commonwealth Games and the world championships. However in 2015, she only attended the Universiade, where she placed 6th on bars, and the friendly meet against China, where she won the uneven bars gold and finished fourth in the All Around and sixth on balance beam. During this quad, she has always been among her country’s top All Arounders so she’s hoping to qualify to the All Around finals as well as helping her team as much as she can.

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Her worlds teammate, Kiara Munteanu is also set to compete at her second world championships. She is an experienced gymnast, who has competed at the Pacific Rim championships, the Jesolo Trophy, and of course, the world championships and she is particularly strong on bars and floor. During 2015, she only competed vault and bars at the Australian championships and she represented her country at the friendly meet against China, contributing on beam and floor. At last year’s world championships, she posted solid scores on bars and beam during qualifications to help Australia qualify into the team finals. Then, she only contributed on vault during the finals.

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Then, we have two athletes who are incredibly talented but relatively new to the worlds stage. The first of them is 18-years-old Georgia Godwin, who has done a brilliant job at national competitions, but never got the chance to make a major team before. More specifically, in 2014 she won the All Around title at both the Nadia Comaneci invitational and the Australian Nationals. However, despite being national champion, she wasn’t chosen to compete at the world championships or the Commonwealth Games because she didn’t quite fit in the team. In 2015, she defended her national All Around title while also grabbing a gold medal on balance beam and a bronze on vault, proving that she deserves to be on that worlds team. The truth is that she has had some problems at some of the small international competitions she has participated in, and she posted low scores at the Jesolo Trophy and the Elite Massilia. However, she is an impressive gymnast, with great difficulty on bars and beam and she looked great during qualifications so hopefully she will shine at Glasgow.

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The last member of the team, Madelaine Leydin, has also only competed in minor international competitions like the Nadia Comaneci Invitational and the Jesolo Trophy. She was the national All Around champion back in 2013 but as mentioned above, Australia did not send any athletes at the 2013 world championships so she did not go to Antwerp. Then, she was struggling with a foot injury that slowed down her training in 2014 but she has been very solid during 2015, winning silver and bronze medals on every single event at the Australian nationals and placing third All Around and second on vault and floor at the friendly meet against China.

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Just like last year, Australia’s weakest event is definitely the vault. Larrissa Miller is not competing on this apparatus and Georgia Rose Brown, Georgia Godwin, Kiara Munteanu and Mary Anne Monckton all perform full twisting yurchenkos. They are all capable of getting good height and keeping the skill clean in the air so they will be able to receive excellent execution scores though. Madelaine Leydin upgraded her vault and she showed a stuck yurchenko 1.5 during podium training. She did bent her knees during the last half twist, but she is definitely valuable for the country’s line up. The star of the team here is Emily Little, who is rumored to have trained amanars in the past. She is the only athlete in the team who performs a strong double twisting yurchenko and they’re expecting a high score from her. As we’ve said in the past, vault is the highest scoring event and it’s not difficult to earn a score close to 14 even if your start value is only a 5.0. This means that Australia’s lack of difficulty here does not destroy their chances to qualify into team finals. However, they will have a significant disadvantage over teams like Brazil, Canada, Romania and Great Britain so they’ll have to make up for it on the remaining events.

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Thankfully, they show much more potential on the uneven bars. I was extremely impressed when I saw their routines from podium training. They all have a good difficulty level and they also show some unique and spectacular combinations that will take out breath away. Georgia – Rose Brown revealed a fabulous new skill during qualification, a stalder pak salto and she connected it with her toe on full + maloney. She also performs a high jaeger and a double front dismount. Georgia Godwin starts her routine with a spectacular weiler half + maloney + pak + van leeuwen combination but she only dismounted with a double pike. Kiara Munteanu’s shaposhnikova is a tiny big flat but her tkatcev is sky high and she easily connects it with a gienger before performing a high jaeger. Maddie Leydin, who has gorgeous toe point, also connects two release moves. In her case, it’s a high markelov into a gienger.  Emily Little‘s routine includes a very well performed maloney + bail combination, a high jaeger and a double layout dismount. It looks like Mary – Anne Monckton has spent plenty of time working on bars while recovering from her ankle injuries and her hard work has definitely paid of. She now begins her routine with a spectacular shushunova, she connects a high tkatcev with a pak salto and she also has a beautifully executed markelov and a double layout dismount. I believe she’s the only athlete in those championships currently performing a shushunova and her execution has definitely improved a lot since last year. However, the star of the team on this event has to be 2014 Commonwealth silver medalist Larrissa Miller. We have not seen her competing for a while, but in the past, she is capable of a gorgeous ricna + pak combination, an inbar half into a high jaeger and a full in dismount. Her lines, her toe point and her execution are simply exquisite and she should be able to deliver a high score for her team.

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Australia also has some lovely work on the balance beam, where they show both elegance and difficulty. As a true Australian gymnast, Georgia Godwin, performs her country’s signature turn twice, and she showed a triple and a 2.5 turn in the wolf position. She is also capable of two back handsprings into a layout, an excellent front aerial + side aerial + split jump + side somi combination and a rather low double pike dismount. Georgia Rose Brown shows gorgeous lines during her back handspring + layout step out series and fantastic flexibility during her leaps. She has also competed a front aerial into an illusion turn and a double tuck dismount. In the past, Kiara Munteanu has performed an extremely difficult grigoras, a front tuck into a split jump, a switch half and a double tuck dismount while Maddie Leydin has shown a front tuck, an 1.5 wolf turn, a front aerial and a double pike. Emily Little has a double wolf turn, a front tuck, a switch leap + johnson combination and a 2.5 twists dismount. The top beam worker of the team is probably Mary Anne Monckton, whose routine includes a beautiful side aerial + lay out step out combination, a front aerial into a sheep jump, a switch ring and a double pike dismount. She had some trouble during podium training but hopefully, she will be ready to hit when it actually matters.

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On floor, Australia does not have as much difficulty as they do on beam, but they do have some great work. There are more wolf turns than I can handle in their line up, but they should be able to post some solid scores. Mary – Anne Monckton has not performed on this event for a long time, so it’s safe to assume that she’s the athlete who won’t compete during qualifications. Emily Little shows good height on her piked and tucked full ins and she dismounts with a powerful double pike while Kiara Munteanu starts her routine with a fabulous front layout + double front combination and continues with a sky high double pike and a double wolf turn. The beautiful Georgia – Rose performs a clean 2.5 twists, an L turn + memmel combination and a double tuck. She is a very graceful gymnast, with beautiful lines and her choreography at the end of the routine is absolutely lovely. Leydin mounts with an 1.5 + double tuck combination, she performs a double wolf turn and she dismounts with a double pike after showing mstafinessesome really fun choreography. Georgia Godwin’s tumbling passes (front full + rudi, double pike, double tuck) are not particularly difficult, but she gains some valuable points by performing intricate turns combinations. She shows a memmel into an Y turn, a triple wolf turn and a double wolf turn into a double turn. The star of the team here is once again 2014 world finalist Larrissa Miller. She is a gorgeous floor worker with beautiful lines and elegance. She starts her routine with a tricky front full + double front twist combination, her double arabian + stag is a piece of art.

photo from Larrissa Miller’s instagram

To sum up, Australia has a very respectable level of difficulty and they definitely are contenders for the team finals. They don’t really have massive scoring potential because they don’t have any huge start values and they do give a few tenths away on execution but they are capable of posting solid numbers that will keep them in the mix. This means that they are one of the several teams who will be fighting for one of the last spots of the top 8 and their chances are as good as anyone’s. It’s needless to say that there’s very little room for error. In such a deep field, any team could hit every single routine and still not qualify into the team finals, so just one fall can make the difference between the 8th and the 9th place. It’s truth that they have competed very little during the year and that the athletes who did not compete at the Universiade have not attended a major international competition in 2015. You always feel more confident if you have already hit your routines at a big stage recently, so I’m a bit worried about their consistency but they did a very good job at podium training and hopefully they will surprise us once again.

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