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Gold Coast medallists headline the Australian gymnastics team for Tokyo

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The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has selected an 11-strong gymnastics team for Tokyo, headlined by Gold Coast 2018 medallists Georgia Godwin and Emily Whitehead.

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games medallist Georgia Godwin and Emily Whitehead will lead a team of 11 gymnasts who make up the Australian gymnastics team, the second largest squad sent to an Olympics since the Tokyo 1964 Games.

The selection of Godwin and Whitehead takes the number of Commonwealth Games Australia alumni to 124 team members heading to Japan, while the Games will be a thrilling experience for the team members who are all Olympic debutants.

Godwin, Whitehead and Tyson Bull will compete in Artistic, Lidiia Iakovleva, Emily Abbot, Alexandra Aristoteli, Alannah Mathews, Himeka Onoda and Felicity White make up the Rhythmic team, with Dominic Clarke and Jessica Pickering to compete in Trampoline.

Iakovleva and Pickering both competed for Australia at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, with Pickering taking home silver, while Iakovleva made the team in Argentina when she was 15-years-old.

After attending the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Iakovleva was inspired to compete herself at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“It was quite inspiring to watch the Australian girls compete,’’ Iakovleva told the Courier Mail.

Then, in 2019, aged 15, she was the baby of the Australian rhythmic gymnastics world championships team which competed in Baku.

“Every competition built up my experience,’’ Iakovleva said.

Which made making the senior side for the 2020 Olympics into play, rather than her original goal of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Rhythmic gymnast Emily Abbott, who will compete in the Rhythmic Gymnastics group event, has overcome injury and setback to achieve a lifelong Olympic dream.

“Going to the Olympics means the absolute world to me, ever since I was 10 years old, I have had my heart set on representing Australia at the Olympics.” Abbott said.

“In year five, I went as an Olympic gymnast to Book Week, even though you are supposed to go as your favourite book character. I have framed pictures I drew when I 10 which say ‘I want to represent Australia in the Olympics doing rythmic gymnastics’, rhythmic spelt wrong and all.

“In 2018, I had two hip surgeries. Even though it looked like I would never do gymnastics again, I never gave up. It took me 18 months to get fully back into the sport, but I did it and because of it I am living out my biggest dream. The last two years have been the best of my life and I cannot describe how over the moon and how much my heart is beaming to live out what I have wanted and have worked so hard for.”

Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team Ian Chesterman welcomed the gymnastic team announcement.

“To send one of our biggest ever gymnastics team to an Olympics is a fantastic achievement and testament to the depth of talent in Australian gymnastics.” Chesterman said.

“Congratulations to all 11 athletes on making the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo. This has been a very trying qualification process and today’s selection is a reflection of immense determination, resolve and talent of these athletes to overcome challenges to chase their Olympic dream.

The Gymnastics competition will be held at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

Artistic will be held on 24-29 July and 1-3 August; Trampoline on 30-31 July and Rhythmic on 6-8 August.

Australian Olympic Gymnastics Team

Name Event Age State Olympic Games Experience Commonwealth Games Experience
Emily Abbot Rhythmic Group 24 QLD Debut
Alexandra Aristoteli Rhythmic Group 24 QLD Debut
Tyson Bull Men’s Artistic 28 VIC Debut
Dominic Clarke Trampoline 24 NSW Debut
Georgia Godwin Women’s Artistic 23 QLD Debut
Lidiia Iakovleva Rhythmic Individual 17 QLD Debut
Alannah Mathews Rhythmic Group 22 QLD Debut
Himeka Onoda Rhythmic Group 23 QLD Debut
Jessica Pickering Trampoline 20 NSW Debut
Felicity White Rhythmic Group 20 QLD Debut
Emily Whitehead Women’s Artistic 20 VIC Debut

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