Tokyo campaign a success

With the Olympic cauldron extinguished on Sunday 8 August, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have officially come to an end. 

A 486-person strong cohort made up the Australian Olympic Team, the largest since the Sydney 2000 Games. 

Of the 486 athletes, the gymnastics contingent was the largest we have seen in some 56 years, since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, with 11 gymnastics representatives debuting at the highest level. 

The Australian gymnastics team made history with the first ever Rhythmic Gymnastics Group to compete at an Olympics and the first female trampolinist since the Athens 2004 Games.

Day 1 of the Tokyo Games saw men’s artistic gymnast, Tyson Bull etch his name into Australian gymnastics history, becoming the first male gymnast to qualify for an Olympic Apparatus Final. 

Scoring an impressive personal best of 14.433 on Horizontal Bar, Bull finished in 7th place.

Speaking of his history-making feat, Bull was ecstatic and excited for the Final.

“It was a giant feeling of relief and excitement. It's been anything but smooth leading into the Games, so I was just so stoked to hit that set. It's the highest difficulty score I’ve got on a world stage,” Bull said.

As day 2 of the Games kicked off, it was time for women’s artistic gymnasts, Georgia Godwin and Emily Whitehead to take to the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. 

Both Godwin and Whitehead performed incredibly well, hitting all four routines in their maiden Olympic Games. 

The pair both performed best on Vault, with Godwin performing a dynamic Tsukahara full twist, and Whitehead a clean Yurchenko 1.5 twist, landing them a score of 13.766 and 14.000 respectively. 

Godwin finished in 37th position with a score of 52.865, earning a spot as the third reserve for the All-Around Final, while Whitehead came home in 44th place with a score of 52.298.

As the middle weekend of the Games came around, our trampoline gymnasts, who had spent more than 8 weeks abroad prior to arriving in Tokyo, finally got their chance on the Olympic stage. 

First up was Jessica Pickering, who unfortunately fell early in both her Qualification routines, with sideways movement sending her onto the side of the frame earning her a total score of 34.190 and ending the qualification rounds in 16th spot.

Speaking after the event, Pickering said, "It was very exciting, I was a little bit nervous being first up but I'm very proud to be the first competitor for the trampoline event which was phenomenal.” 

"Even though it wasn't my best competition, I think it's one of my worst for a while which is bad timing, but even considering that I still enjoyed the experience and it's an amazing opportunity for my career." 

In Men’s Trampoline, Dominic Clarke performed impressive routines in Qualification, finishing in 4th place, earning a spot in the Final, joining Ji Wallace as the only male trampolinists to achieve such a feat. 

In the Final, held later that afternoon, Clarke unfortunately came off the trampoline on skill 4, finishing in 8th place.

"I'm over the moon," Clarke said.  

"It's the best performance I've put up all year and it literally just came down to me having fun on the floor. I set out what I wanted to do in prelims, exceeded my expectations to be in the finals was a bonus and the energy down there and watching everyone compete was so much fun." 

As week 2 of the Games began, all eyes were eagerly waiting Tuesday evening’s Horizontal Bar Final, which would feature our very own Tyson Bull.

In a nerve-wracking session, that saw only 4 athletes complete a full routine, Bull was the fifth gymnast to take to the Bar, scoring an execution rating of 6.666 and finishing with a total score of 12.466.

Bull started off with a clean stoop half, into Kovacs and pulls out of the connection. Bull had a clean release sequence with cassina, piked Kovacs and Yamasaki.

At the end of the night, Bull would finish in 5th place with Japanese star Daiki Hashimoto taking out gold.

The final two days of the Games saw our rhythmic gymnasts, both individual and group take to the Olympic floor. 

Friday 6 August saw young-gun, Lidiia Iakovleva impress in her Olympic debut, finishing in 23rd position with a score of 78.775.

Donning a spectacular unitard, Iakovleva saved the best for last, achieving a personal best score in her Clubs routine, with a score of 22.352.

The following morning, our Rhythmic Gymnastics Group made history, as the first Australian Group to compete at an Olympic Games. 

The Group consisting of Emily Abbot, Alexandra Aristoteli, Alannah Mathews, Himeka Onoda and Felicity White performed strongly in both routines, posting scores of 20.850 and 19.500, coming in 14th place.

The success and achievements of the past two weeks are testament to years of hard-work, dedication and commitment to gymnastics from all eleven athletes.

Gymnastics Australia would also like to thank and acknowledge the contributions from the Australian Olympic Team coaches and support staff, Andrew Logan National Performance Director, Joshua Rigg, Team Physiotherapist, Vladimir Vatkin (MAG), Jonathon Hart and Alexandre Beloousov (WAG), Brett Austine and Belinda Cox (TRP), Iuliia Iakovleva (RG Individual) and Gina Peluso (RG Group).