Athlete Profiles – Women’s Team Australia

TOKYO (JPN), FIG Office, October 3, 2011: Led by 2010 World Champion on Floor Lauren Mitchell, the Women Team Australia squad is eying direct Olympic qualification by placing among the eight best Teams in Tokyo. They finished 6th in 2010.

Ashleigh Brennan
The Victorian first caught the eye of many in the gymnastics world when as a junior when she won the Under-12 division at the Junior Nationals in 2002. She then went on to compete at her first international meet in 2004 in the USA where she placed seventh in the All-Around competition. Unfortunately, in 2004, Ashleigh injured her left elbow which sidelined her for 12 months. However, at just 15 years of age, she was selected into the 2006 Commonwealth Games team, winning silver on Floor and helping Australia to a team gold medal.

Ashleigh was an integral member of the Australian team that secured a spot in the Olympic Games by finishing 11th at the 2007 World Championships in Germany. She also made her Olympic debut in Beijing, achieving her best result on Floor (19th) and helping Australia reach its highest ever Olympic team result in finishing sixth.

After Beijing, Ashleigh took a year off elite gymnastics to focus on completing her school studies and gain entry into University. She returned to elite competition in 2010 and despite sitting in second place in the All-Around at the 2010 Australian Championships, withdrew following an awkward landing on her ankle on Vault on the opening night of competition.
Ashleigh was a valuable member of the gold medal winning Australian Team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, also taking out the bronze medal on Floor. She then went on to represent Australia at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam where the team placed 6th.
In 2011, Ashleigh has become the most consistent performer for the Australian team and will use her experience to lead the Australian team to Olympic qualification. Ashleigh is a member of the VIS Victorian Women’s High Performance Centre, coached by Misha Barabach and Tracey Penaluna.

Georgia-Rose Brown
Sixteen year old Georgia-Rose Brown started her gymnastics career at the age of 6 at Moreton Bay College Gymnastics Club in Queensland. In January 2010, she made the move to Melbourne, where she now trains at the Victorian Women’s High Performance Centre in Prahran, coached by Misha Barabach and Tracey Penaluna. Georgia-Rose is well-known for her long, slender body, and graceful moves.

Georgia-Rose has enjoyed many successes over the past few years, including winning the Individual All-Around event at the 2010 Pre-Olympic Youth Cup in Germany. She also represented Australia at the 2010 Pacific Rim Championships, winning a Team bronze, 4th in the Uneven Bars final and at the 2010 Combs la Ville event in France, placed 2nd in the Individual All-Around event.

In July 2011, Georgia made her mark on the Australian senior ranks winning the All-Around silver medal at the National Championships. The 2011 World Championships in Japan will be Georgia-Rose’s first World Championship experience, and she has her sights set firmly on gaining a place in the 2012 Olympic Games team.

Nikola Chung
2011 World Championships will be Nikola Chung’s first, having only come into the senior ranks of the Australian team this year. Nikki first represented Australia at the 2010 Combs la Ville and Marsillia Cup in France where she placed 1st on Uneven Bars and 3rd on Vault in both events. Nikki also competed in the 2011 Gymnix Invitational where the Australian team placed 3rd.
Nikki started gymnastics at a recreational level when she noticed the WAIS girls training where she attended a swimming clinic at the same venue. Nikki’s Mum booked her in for a trial after being asked by Nikki, and was accepted into the elite squad at age 9 in 2004, a comparatively late start for elite gymnasts.

Since then, Nikki has slowly and steadily improved her gymnastics and will be a strong team member for the future of Australian Gymnastics. Nikki is one of three athletes on the Australian team who is coached by Nikolai Lapchine and Martine George at WAIS Gymnastics in Perth.

Emily Little
Emily began gymnastics at the age of six. In 2008, she took out the Australian junior All-Around title and also won gold medals on Beam, Floor and Vault. She made her international debut in 2008 at the Golden State Classic in the United States winning the All-Around competition.

Her best international performance to date was at the 2010 Pacific Rim Championships in Melbourne where she won silver on Vault. Little missed the 2010 Australian Championships after straining ligaments in her elbow after landing awkwardly during a dismount from the uneven bars.

Entering an injury petition, Little’s past achievements were looked upon favorably by the selectors; Emily was successful at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi where she was a member of the gold medal winning team and also secured the silver medal in the Women’s All-Around final.

At 17 years of age, Emily now has an important role on the Australian team. Having been injured for most of 2011, the World Championships is Emily’s first major competition for the year and she will be looking to continue on from her successful 2010.

Emily is coached by Nikolai Lapchine and Martine George at WAIS Gymnastics in Perth.

Larrissa Miller
After a relatively successful 2009 World Championships where she made the Uneven Bars final, placing 7th, Larrissa comes to Tokyo as one of the more experienced members of the Australian team. Larrissa also competed in last year’s 2010 Pacific Rim Championships in Melbourne as a member of the 3rd placed Australia team, earning a 19th place in the All-Around competition and 8th on Uneven Bars.

Larrissa was part of the 2010 World Championships team that placed 6th and she finished 15th on Uneven Bars.

In 2011 Larrissa changed Gymnastics clubs to the QLD High Performance Centre and continues to show why she is has secured her role on the Australian team as an Uneven Bars specialist. Larissa started Gymnastics in Moranbah, Queensland and is now coached by Vladimir and Irina Joura.

Lauren Mitchell

Lauren fell in love with gymnastics at the age of six when she had a ‘Gymbus’ birthday party on a double-decker fitted with gym equipment and balloons. Joining her local PCYC in Perth, she was quickly snapped up by the WAIS high performance program. From 2007, Lauren started displaying her great potential, finishing an impressive fifth on beam at the 2007 World Championships, and then went on to collect silver and bronze on the Beam and Floor at the World Cup in Stuttgart. In 2008, she was selected to represent Australia at the Beijing Olympics, where she helped Australia reach its best ever Olympic team result to finish sixth, however surprisingly failed to qualify for the Beam final.

At the end of 2008, the West Australian teenager made amends and created history by becoming the first Australian female gymnast to win a World Cup final, defeating a stellar field on the Balance Beam in Madrid, Spain. Her great run continued in 2009. Taking out the Australian All-Around title, she was automatically selected for the World Championships team.

Mitchell became the toast of Australian gymnastics following the 2009 World Championships. At London’s O2 Arena, Mitchell had an outstanding World Championships campaign winning silver on Beam and Floor, only narrowly missed a medal in the women’s All-Around final finishing in fourth place by just 0.025. Creating another slice of history, Mitchell became the first Australian woman to medal in an individual apparatus final at a World Championships, and the only Australian to win two medals in the same competition.

After starting 2010 with a string of injuries, which included a broken hand, a sprained ankle and a strained adductor and unable to compete at the Australian Championships in July, an injury petition was entered with Mitchell’s past achievements being looked upon favorably by the selectors. With a remarkable recovery, Lauren then went onto win gold medals in the Team, All Around, Uneven Bars and Beam competition, and silver on Floor, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, the biggest haul by an artistic gymnast at one Game.
The final stages of 2010 showed Lauren cement her reputation as a force in World gymnastics. Lauren became the first Australian female gymnast to win a world title, winning gold on Floor in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The final gymnast to perform, Lauren produced the routine of her career scoring 14.833, fending off a strong performance from newly crowned All-Around champion Aliya Mustafina of Russia. Lauren’s gold medal at the World championships was the pinnacle for what was the most successful year for any Australian gymnast in history.

Following the World Championships, her amazing string of performances continued in November, capturing five gold medals at her two World Cup circuit appearances, and becoming the first Australian gymnast to win three gold medals at a single World Cup event.
2011 has continued to show the dominance of Lauren’s Gymnastics, winning the National Championships All-Around, Uneven Bars, Beam and Floor. Lauren will be aiming to break many more records come this World Championships in Tokyo.

Lauren trains at WAIS with coaches Nikolai Lapchine and Martine George.

Mary-Anne Monckton

Mary-Anne Monckton has had a turbulent past couple of years, making the Australian team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, but pulling out just weeks before the Games due to an ankle injury. After working hard to rehabilitate her ankle, she has now been named on the Australian team for the 2011 World Championships.

At the age of 7, Newcastle-born Mary-Anne moved to the residential program at the Australian Institute of Sport. In 2007, she competed in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, finishing 23rd. She also competed in the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival.

Mary-Anne recently returned from a year on the sidelines after having a small bone removed from each of her ankles. She returned with vigour in 2010 and in her first year at senior level, surprised many to finish in second place in the All-Around at the 2010 Australian Championships in July.

In January 2011, Mary-Anne moved to Melbourne, where she joined the Victorian Women’s High Performance Centre and is currently coached by Misha Barabach and Tracey Penaluna.

In March 2011, she represented Australia in a head-to-head event against Great Britain, where she placed 7th in the Individual All-Around event. In July 2011, she placed 3rd in the Individual All-Around at the National Championships.

Mary-Anne is 16 years old, and began gymnastics when she was 5 years old. She is aiming to gain a place on the Australian team for the 2012 London Olympic Games, and assist Australia in achieving a strong result at the 2011 World Championships.

(Source: Australian Gymnastics Association)

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