Gaudry, Miller and Prince to leap, fly and twist in Rio
After years of training and dedication three Australian gymnasts have been named to compete at the Rio Olympic Park in August. Rhythmic gymnast Danielle Prince will make her Olympic debut, while trampolinist Blake Gaudry and artistic gymnast Larrissa Miller get the chance to build on their London 2012 performances.
Miller, 23, did enough at the recent Australian Championships, which doubled as the final Rio Selection Trial, to impress selectors and claim the highly competitive individual spot ahead of London teammates Emily Little and Lauren Mitchell.
Australia secured an individual quota position at this year’s Rio Test Event, but missed out on full Team by one place, meaning an extremely tight competition for the one spot at the Trials in Melbourne.
With Rianna Mizzen winning the uneven bars, Emily Little the vault, Lauren Mitchell the beam and Miller the floor it was a tough call for selectors.
Miller is relieved to have won the spot after not having her ideal Trials. She had gone into the competition as the hot favourite in the bars but had two falls and finished eighth. She then excelled on the floor ahead of Mitchell.
“I’m really happy with the result. It’s a relief,” Miller said.
“Mentally I was more stressed after the bars routine. I knew I had to lift in the floor routine. I put the pressure on myself because I knew what was riding on that moment.
“It’s pretty crazy. After she (Mitchell) had done her floor routine I thought she was going to beat me. That’s her thing. She did an amazing job, so to come out on top has given me great confidence.”
Miller did have impressive performances at the Rio Test Event where she came second on floor and fifth on bars.
The Queensland-born athlete, who moved to Melbourne after the London 2012 Games, said she only discovered her talent for the floor in the last couple of years.
“The first time I realised I had potential on floor was 2014 when I made the finals in floor at the World Championships and came sixth,” she said.
Miller is focused on making an Olympic final now after her first experience four years ago where she came 10th in the Team event, 29th on the uneven bars and 42nd on the floor.
“The first Olympic Games it was more about the experience, but now it’s about being able to perform better and be more goal focused.”
When asked if she had to choose between the floor or uneven bars final, Miller confesses a love for her ‘new-found’ talent.
“I’d really like to make a floor final,” she said with a laugh.
Gaudry also secured his spot on the Team with a strong performance at the Australian Championships. The 24-year-old trampoline gymnast will fly through the air in Barra and has his eye on going one step further than his debut four years ago.
Originally from Sydney, Gaudry finished in 13th place at London 2012. In the first stage of qualification, the set routine, Gaudry produced a blistering performance to finish in 9th place. The performance had him in sight of the medals however in the voluntary routine, Gaudry fell on the seventh of his 10 skills, finishing 13th overall and missing the 8-man final.
He said it’s a disappointment he’s learnt a lot from.
“At London I wasn’t as competitive as I would have liked to be, a lot of it was about the experience.”
But now with four more years of practice and competition under his belt, the Adelaide-based athlete will be out to impress this August.
“As soon as London was over, my eyes were on Rio so it’s pretty special to be selected,” he said.
“I’m working on bigger routines with a high degree of difficulty. The first stage is enjoying the competition, just enjoying the process.
“Compared to World Championships were there’s more than 100 competitors, there’s only 16 at the Olympics so really anyone at the Olympics is a medal contender.”
And his love of the sport all comes down to the basics.
“I love the feeling of the adrenaline of flying in the air. It’s the same feeling I had as a kid.”
It’s the same love of the sport which has driven Prince to fulfil her Olympic dream at 23.
The rhythmic gymnast has been selected for her first Games and couldn’t be more excited. She secured a named quota spot at the Rio Test Event, finishing 78th in the all-around as the highest scoring Oceania competitor. She also secured the national title last week in Melbourne.
“I’m really happy with how nationals went, it’s a relief,” she said.
“I’ve had really good feedback on my routines at international competitions and I’m slowly progressing towards Rio.”
The last few months have been a confidence booster for the Queenslander, winning three bronze medals at the Pacific Rim Championships in Seattle, USA.
With less than 60 days to go until the Games, Prince is focussed on perfecting the small things.
“I’m now nutting down the execution of routines. I’ve made all the changes now, I just need to get the repetitions up – the hard work stuff.
“I just can’t wait to compete alongside all the other Australian athletes. I watched my sporting idols at Beijing and London like Anna (Meares) and Sally (Pearson). I can’t believe I get to be on the Team with that kind of athlete.”
These three additions take the 2016 Australian Olympic Team to 158, with more than 400 athletes expected.