Gympie gymnasts roll into Junior State Championships
FOURTEEN of Gympie's best gymnasts will compete against the best of Queensland in the four-day Junior State Championships in Brisbane, which start today.
Three boys and 11 girls will travel from Gympie to the Sleeman Sports Complex and will rub shoulders with more than 700 girls and 300 boys from 56 clubs.
Gympie Gymnastics coach Teagan Cleary said the athletes excelled at the recent Sunshine Coast Regional Titles.
"We had a successful regionals this year, where we ended up coming first in club awards for level six and third overall," Cleary said.
"That's a pretty amazing effort, they've all had to qualify for this competition and to pass a level test they have to score 28, but to qualify for states they need to score 34.
"So it's a big achievement to qualify for this event and it's something we can gauge on where we are sitting in the region."
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Cleary, born and raised in Gympie, has been coaching for almost 10 years but retired from competing last year upon completion of her level 10.
The 25-year-old said the number of gymnasts has grown on last year's number of seven.
"I've been with some of them since they were just starting school, and there's some I've only been with since last year.
"Our program has developed slowly over time, and now its showing it's working.
There were no boys from Gympie at last year's Junior State Championships and Cleary said that is a growth area but one many young boys must overcome in terms of stigma.
"We've just been trying to get numbers of boys in, it isn't really the first sport boys think of," she said.
"I think it's just the coaches working together from the lower levels to the higher levels. Sometimes the kids get social vibes and drop out when they get older."
Cleary praised her charges for the effort and amount of training they put into their sport.
She said they train between nine and 14 hours per week, before and after school.
The Gympie contingent range in levels from three to six, which are the junior levels, higher than six is seniors, with 10 being the highest before moving into the professional stream of gymnastics.
Gymnastics Queensland CEO Kym Dowdell said the levels of athletes gauges their ability and how many hours are put into training.
"Most of the girls are four to six, and boys are three to six," Dowdell said.
"As they move up and hit the 8 to 10 level they're going 18-20 hours per week.
"An international athlete is around 30 hours, a full time job for a 15-year-old, but there's only a small percentage at that level."
Dowdell said these athletes are competing in the middle area - four to six - training like a part-time job.
"We start to look at all the children, probably the young ones in the age category of seven to 10 to assess if they have the physical capacity for international level," she said.
"If some have exceptional physicality then we will identify them and start them on a development pathway."
Dowdell said the pathways assess the psychological and physical ability of athletes and are assessed over a longer period of time before they are offered a position in the state high performance program.