Grace, poise, strength and spectacular athleticism will be on display this month at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena when it hosts around 1,400 athletes at the 2017 Australian Gymnastics Championships.
The Olympic disciplines of women’s and men’s artistic, rhythmic and trampoline gymnastics will be on show, as well as the spectacular team sport of acrobatic gymnastics. And discipline is well and truly an apt description. These sports require physical strength and control, incredible flexibility, mental toughness and artistic ability—not to mention courage, as anyone who has watched the heart-stopping routines on the high bar and trampoline knows.
The championships give Aussie gymnastic talent the opportunity to shine, with more than 6,000 routines to be performed during the event—and there’s some great Aussie talent to admire.
This was underlined at last month’s International Gymnastics Federation’s Individual Apparatus World Cup series in Doha, Qatar, which saw Australians topping the world rankings in six of the 10 apparatus on offer.
Western Australia’s Emily Little was the standout, leading the charge on three apparatus—vault, beam and floor. But not only does she have a swag of medals and international titles to her name, the 23-year-old is currently the only Australian who has mastered the double layout with a full twist to include in her floor repertoire. If that sounds impressive—and difficult—it is.
Described as “the second most difficult tumbling pass on floor exercise”, gymnastic website balancebeamsituation.com goes on to say it “is quite rare because only the most powerful and acrobatically proficient will even attempt to perform it”.
Melbourne gymnast Tyson Bull is also a ‘member’ of an elite group, being one of few people in the world capable of executing a Cassina-Kolman on the high bar. The intricate, double back twisting flip over the high bar is graceful, terrifying and just seems to defy gravity. How is even possible for a human to do it? If you want to see what it looks like, type in ‘Tyson Bull’ on YouTube.
The 24-year-old, who is combining gymnastics with studying at the University of Illinois, was like many gymnastic champions, starting classes as a little tacker just for fun. Bull will no doubt thrill fans when he comes home to compete at the championships.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to use gymnastics—figuratively—in our lives? Is there a problem looming ahead? Leave it behind with a triple forward roll. Is someone hassling you? Dodge them with double twist back flip. Is there a situation you can’t bear to face? Escape it with a series of swift handsprings and aerial cartwheels.
The good news is that we can rely on God to give us the moves we need to navigate life’s ups and downs. The even better news is that he doesn’t require us to risk our necks with a Cassina-Kolman on the high bar because, “The sovereign Lord is my source of strength. He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain” (Habakkuk chapter 3, verse 19).