Physiotherapists pivotal to State Team success

 Many gymnasts are hitting huge millstones at this year’s Australian Gymnastics Championships, but it is not to be forgotten that so too are the those who help keep the athletes at their best to compete.

The support staff for Gymnastics Victoria (GV) are crucial in ensuring these events run smoothly and the physiotherapists are important pieces in the puzzle.

Catherine King and Melissa Barker are just two of the physiotherapists for GV’s State Team and are both respectively hitting milestones in their career at this year’s championships.

Pictured: Gymnastics Victoria Physiotherapists Catherine King (left) and Melissa Barker (right).

Catherine King had her first involvement with GV in 2016 where she worked with the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) team. 

Having now been involved for six years, Catherine is excited to return each year with Victoria and continue to be part of the medical team at Nationals.

“It is nice to get to know the team and see the athletes come back year-by-year as they get older, improve and go up in their skill level,” said King.

“It is also nice to meet people from other states. You get to see and appreciate the work the support staff do to help run these events. You get insight into how much work it actually takes to get these events up and running”.

Despite the uncharacteristic weather, Catherine is grateful for the opportunity to return to Nationals this year on the Gold Coast.

“This year’s nationals have been really great. It's nice to see how the competition has come together despite the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, and to see everyone back in their space,”

“It has been relatively quiet in the medical area this year. For Victoria, we didn’t get many acute injuries and not many withdraws, so that’s really positive.”

With a forecast of rain this week she sarcastically added “but the best part would have to be the weather this year for sure”.

Nationals also provides a suitable time for physios to get a refresh on certain drills and develop their skill set for the work they do outside of GV.

For Catherine, time outside of GV still heavily surrounds the sport as she divides her time working between a gymnastics club as well as The National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA). Parallel to this, Catherine also works within a private practice at a sports medicine clinic, where she undertakes clinical Pilates.

Similar to Catherine, Melissa Barker also first got involved with GV working as the WAG team physiotherapist in 2012 when the Australian Gymnastics Championships were held in Sydney.

This year’s Nationals will be Melissa’s tenth year working for GV at the prestigious competition, and she is thrilled about the achievement.

“It is really exciting. I am honored to work with so many wonderful coaches, athletes, medical staff and other support staff. It is always a great environment to work in,” Barker expressed.

Having seen many events over her ten-year tenure, it is hard for Melissa to pick a favourite gymsport that stands from the rest.

“They [gymsports] are all amazing in their own right. There are so many different skills in all of them and they all have their own strong points. For example, the beauty and grace of Rhythmic, the power, height and thrill of Tramp, or the impressive routines of WAG, MAG (Men’s Artistic Gymnastics), Acrobatics and Aerobics.”

While she is unable to pick a favourite gymsport, there is a memorable moment that comes to mind from her several years working at the National competition.

“In my first nationals there was an athlete coming back from an ACL and she was struggling all week, but we worked together to get her on the floor. She was able to complete all her routines and ended up winning her division.”

This story is just one example that shows how important physiotherapists, and all medical staff are to the GV State Team. Without them, the show would not go on; so, it is important to congratulate all staff for their work and especially Catherine and Melissa on their huge milestones this year.

As the first week ends there is still plenty of action to be seen in the second week of the Australian National Championships with many Victorian athletes set to hit the floor.

Follow all event updates on our social channels @gymnasticsvictoriaofficial.