2010 Youth Olympic Games Australian Teams
Gymnastics, equestrian and additional athletic athletes have been selected for the 2010 Australian Youth Olympic Team. The Australian Youth Olympic Team will be represented in 20 of the 26 sports with the Team sports being women's handball and men's hockey.
Outstanding young trampolinists Madeleine Johnson and Patrick Cooper will wear the green and gold at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore next month, after their selection was confirmed by the Australian Olympic Committee today.
Cooper from Rockhampton in north Queensland first stepped on to a trampoline in his backyard when he was five.
"I loved it and I didn't get off the thing so my mum told my father 'we are taking the boy to lessons' and 12 years later I'm on the Team for the Youth Olympics," Cooper explained.
"When I was told of my nomination it was crazy. I was so excited I didn't sleep for two days."
Johnson, who has known 'Patty' for the past six years from competitions including the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival, came to trampolining from artistic gymnastics.
'I used to love doing the skills sessions on the trampoline when I was training for artistic gymnastics so I made the switch to trampolining when I was 10," Johnson said.
Johnson suffers from arthritis in her hands so trampolining was the much better option for her body than the artistic apparatus.
"Trampolining is demanding on your whole body especially your legs but it is not as hard on your hands as artistic so it's much better for my arthritis."
Johnson, who was the Victorian Trampolinist of the Year in 2009 and National Athlete of the Year in 2008, first competed internationally in 2004 but never before at a multi-sport event overseas.
"It is so exciting to be selected for the Youth Olympics. It will be an amazing experience meeting athletes from all over the world and I've been training really hard - five days a week for two and a half hours per day."
Cooper, who has reached the podium in synchronised events at two international competitions overseas, hopes to one day perform in Cirque du Soleil.
"I'm in year 12 at school and hope to go to university and maybe do physiotherapy but I'm also really interested in joining the circus and travelling the world," Cooper said.
A total of 12 individual men and 12 individual women will compete in trampolining. The event comprises a qualification round and a final for the top eight athletes.
Athletes will perform two routines of ten skills in the qualifying round. The first routine comprises ten set skills while the second routine can be any ten skills the athlete wishes aiming for a high degree of difficulty. The final score is a summation of the two scores.
Trampoline Section of the Australian Youth Olympic Team:
Patrick Cooper (QLD, 17)
Madeleine Johnson (VIC, 17)
Five softly-spoken, yet confident, young women are ready for the tough challenge of competing in rhythmic gymnastics at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games this August in Singapore.
Soriah MacLean, Fotini Panselinos, Morgan Turner and Summer Walker of Sydney will compete in the group event and Taylor Tirahardjo from Melbourne will contest the individual All-Around, against the top young rhythmic gymnasts in the world.
Tirahardjo confirmed her selection with another strong performance in the Junior International All-Around event at the National Championships in Perth on the weekend.
"I'm really happy with my clean routines at Nationals and I feel like I'm on track for Singapore," Tirahardjo said.
The 15-year-old has already competed in events all around the world but never a large multi-sport event with thousands of competitors and "can't wait to experience the Village and meet new friends".
She will be one of 18 gymnasts competing in the Individual All-Around in Singapore. The scores from the rope, hoop, ball and clubs are combined with the top eight to contest the final.
"I really enjoy the ball and I hate the rope but my scores are pretty similar for all of them."
In the Group All-Around athletes leap, bound, tumble and throw the hoop and then the ribbon around their bodies with the added difficulty of remaining in unison with their teammates.
"Group is hard because in the individual competition if you make a mistake you can cover it yourself but with group if someone makes a mistake you have to cover them," Walker said.
The 15-year-old rates visual contact with her teammates as the number one skill when performing as a group.
"The most important thing is to watch each other," Walker said, "as you get timing deductions if you are not all in unison."
The Davidson High School student trains 30 hours a week over six days and says this will increase to seven days closer to the Games.
"It is a lot of hard work but you work with everyone around you to get there," she said.
Walker first started participating in rhythmic gymnastics when she was seven. It was an after school activity which she did with friends.
"Most of my friends were doing the sport after school for a bit of fun. That was how I met my coach, who started me in the lower levels before noticing I had some talent.
"I moved into the elite levels and have been competing in individuals for a couple of years. Group came along and it was such a good opportunity I decided to move into it," she said.
Walker is thrilled to represent Australia at the Youth Olympics and with her teammates will be proudly wearing a uniform made especially for them.
"A wonderful parent has made the uniforms for us," she said. "The leotards are made out of a stretchy moveable material and are usually quite expensive as they are covered in diamantes."
Six groups of four in the group all-around will battle it out in the qualification round for one of four spots in the group final. All four gymnasts use the same apparatus in each exercise.
Rhythmic Gymnastic Team for the Singapore Youth Olympic Games:
Soriah MacLean (15, NSW - Group)
Fotini Panselinos (15, NSW - Group)
Taylor Tirahardjo (15, VIC - Individual)
Morgan Turner (14, NSW - Group)
Summer Walker (15, NSW - Group)
Artistic gymnasts Angela Donald and Brody-Jai Hennessy have had their selection to represent Australia at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
Donald, fresh from a commanding victory in the Junior All-Around at the National Gymnastics Championships in Perth on the weekend, is pleased with her form and Singapore preparations.
"All went according to plan in Perth," Donald said. "I was pretty confident after the VIC Champs and I was able to produce clean routines at Nationals."
The 14-year-old Victorian has been focused on achieving selection for some time and hopes this will be a stepping stone to the London Olympics in 2012.
"Ever since hearing about the YOG I've been so excited and determined."
Donald hopes to go one better than her second place at the Pre-Youth Olympic Cup in Germany earlier this year and will make some minor changes to her routines over the next few weeks.
"I'll be upgrading some of my routines to increase the DD [degree of difficulty]. The main thing I'll be working on is a double pike dismount off the beam," Donald explained.
Hennessy, 15, secured his selection with a string of solid performances this year. He was the leading Australian Junior at the Pacific Rim Championships in Melbourne at the end of April and goes into this weekend's National Championships in Canberra as the favourite for the under-18 All-Around title.
"The Pacific Rim was a big breakthrough for me and my first international competition," Hennessy said.
"I guess my selection for Singapore was bit of a surprise but I have been working hard and competitions have really improved this year."
The year 11 student has never been overseas before or competed in a major multi-sport event so the Singapore Youth Olympic Games is bound to be an invaluable experience.
Hennessy trains 10 times a week around his studies and trains in the same squad in Brisbane as Beijing Olympian Sam Simpson.
All gymnasts (42 men and 42 women) contest the qualification with the top 18 qualifying for the All-Around final and the top eight in each apparatus will contest the finals.
The men compete in seven events: Individual All-Around, Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars and Horizontal Bar. The women compete in five events: Individual All-Around, Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise.
Donald and Hennessy will be joined in Singapore by two trampolinists and five rhythmic gymnasts.
Artistic Gymnastics Section of the Australian Youth Olympic Team
Angela Donald (14, VIC)
Brody-Jai Hennessy (15, QLD)
From the age of six, Tom McDermott has been riding horses with the aim of competing in at the Olympic Games.
McDermott who hails from Wagga Wagga in the New South Wales Riverina region is today one step closer, having been selected to compete for Australia in the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
The sport of equestrian was a rite of passage for the talented teenager, as his father Greg competed in jumping for Australia at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
McDermott won his first Australian title in 2006 at just 12 years of age and went on to secure the showjumping crown again in 2008. In Singapore, McDermott will be Australia's only equestrian competitor but his coaches have high hopes for his campaign.
"Tom will be in a new environment and will be under pressure," said Alison Rowland who will accompany McDermott as an official.
"He'll be riding on an unknown horse which will be tough. He rode an unknown horse at the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival, but he hasn't done it often."
Jumping will be the only discipline contested at the Games and there will be a field of 30 competitors from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia with one competitor only from each country.
The horses, which have all been procured and trained in Australia, will be new to the riders. They will be allocated to the competitors by a draw held after the horse inspection. The drawn rider/horse combination will remain the same for both the Individual and Team events.
"It will be a great experience for him," Rowland said. "I don't know much about the competitors he will face and of course he won't know the horse but he will just use his knowledge and ability to get the best out of what he has on the day.
"He'll really have to step up to the competition but he is an extremely talented young rider and absolutely has a shot at a medal."
Equestrian will take place at the Singapore Turf Club from Wednesday 18 to Monday 24 August. Competition will consist of an individual jumping and team jumping event. The team event will be made up of a maximum of six teams, one per continent.
The selection of an additional seven track and field stars for the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. Luke Greco (400m), Grant Gwynne (2000m steeplechase), Elliott Lang (javelin), Brandon Starc (high jump), Rick Whitehead (1000m), Ashleigh Whittaker (100m) and Raheen Williams (400m hurdles) * are all thrilled to have their places confirmed and they will now join the 10 athletes, led by Liz Parnov, selected by the AOC last month.
Williams, 17, was encouraged to start hurdling a few years ago after meeting Olympic finalist Kyle Vander-Kuyp as part of Athletics Australia's Jump Start to London 2012 program for talented indigenous athletes.
"I can't remember exactly where we met but at the time I was high jumping and throwing the javelin but Kyle got me interested in hurdling," Williams, who high jumped 1.99 metres as a 14-year-old, recalls.
"It took me a few years to get the technique of hurdling but now things are going really well." His older brother Ray was a champion sprinter before concentrating on football.
Williams won the Australian All Schools in December and is training hard to improve on his 52.74 second time (84cm) he set in winning the under 18 National Title in March. He was a silver medallist at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in January 2009 where he got to experience his first multi-sport event.
Steeplechaser Gwynne also has the benefit of experiencing the 2009 AYOF in Sydney and is focusing on a personal best in the warm conditions in Singapore.
"I want to get down to 5mins 50 seconds or 5.45 in Singapore which would be a 10 second PB," the year 12 student said.
"It has been an anxious wait for selection but I've been training hard and will travel to the Gold Coast in two weeks for some more competition before we depart for Singapore."
Starc will put the finishing touches on his preparation at his school regional carnival in Sydney at the end of July and will no doubt turn some heads with his current form.
"Jumping is going really well and training on the weekend was right near my PB (personal best of 2.10m)," the 1.86 metre 16-year-old said.
Starc hopes to one day emulate the performance of 1992 Olympic medallist Tim Forysth. He and his coach Alex Stewart have been communicating with Forsyth to gain as much knowledge as they can.
Starc like many of the 2010 Australian Youth Olympic Team has never been overseas before and is extremely excited to be competing against the best young athletes in the world and staying in a Village with competitors from 26 Olympic sports.
Complete Athletics Section for the Australian Youth Olympic Team
Damien Birkinhead (17, VIC, shot put)
Jenny Blundell (16, NSW, 1000m)
Brodie Cross (16, VIC, pole vault)
Luke Greco (17, VIC, 400m)
Grant Gwynne (17, QLD, 2000m steeplechase)
Nicholas Hough (16, NSW, 110m hurdles)
Michelle Jenneke (17, NSW, 100m Hurdles)
Kurt Jenner (17, NSW, long jump)
Elliot Lang (16, NSW, javelin)
Demii Maher-Smith (15, QLD, long jump)
Liz Parnov (16, WA, pole vault)
Prabhjot Rai (17, VIC, shot put)
Brandon Starc (16, NSW, high jump)
Blake Steele (17, SA, 10000m race walk)
Rick Whitehead (17, VIC, 1000m)
Ashleigh Whittaker (16, VIC, 100m)
Raheen Williams (17, WA, 400m hurdles)
Photo: Fotini Panselinos of Rhythmic Gymnastics.
Photo Credit: Panselinos.