Gymnastics

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

They're Perth's toughest little athletes, you've seen inside the training camp of our elite gymnasts. Now, the science behind the sport.

The voice of olympic gymnatics, Liz Chetkovich is also behind our most successful athletes. Here at WAIS she co-ordinates a huge team of sports specialists, dieticians, psychologists, physiotherapists.

Gymnasts can make their bodies bend in impossible ways.

Repetative jarring can put stress on gymnasts joints, so injury prevention is critical. "It's important we get on top of injuries very quickly so they dont develop into a more serious injury"

At the first sign of a niggle coach Martine calls on WAIS physiotherapist Jo Norcott. "Some bodies can cope with some things more than others"

Young children have growth plates in their joints, it's what allows their bones to grow. In gymnasts its the area most prone to injury. In Francesca's case the stiffness is quickly fixed with physio.

As a physiologist, Dr Sacha Fulton monitors the gymnast's physiques. "To ascertain whether the gymnast is growing and in what proportion theyre growing as well" This morning she's measuring Darcy's weight, height and body fat. "Gymnasts on the whole tend to be one of the leanest populations you see"

A WAIS gymnast has just thirty milimeters of body fat, less than cyclists, triathletes and swimmers. And three times less body fat than the average female.

To propel your own body takes incredible strength, difficult to do, if your carrying dead weight. Sascha says "fat mass is ineffective mass, it's not doing a lot"

This afternoon these littlees are at a mini masterchef class with WAIS nutritionist Julie Meeks. "It would have to be one of the number one things that affects their performance"

Not only do they train up to five days a week, they're growing little girls. Today's lesson begins with brekky. Julie Meeks says "what they eat is key to how well they perform"

Lauren Mitchell is Australia's first ever world champion from right here at WAIS. To win a world title takes more than hard training, it take years of mental grooming.

This evening the juniors have a psychology session with Emile Thienot, a sports specialist from France. "I think these little girls they can sometimes get confused with many thoughts in their mind, different feelings"

At times the skills are scary and facing their fears the first hurdle. On the tramp, young Sarah is psyching herself up.

Coach Dimitri knows she's capable she just needs a confidence boost.

At the end of a hard week this is what every gymnast waits for, a full body massage, by Masuesse, Natasha Brock."They have had some sceintific studies done where they can prove it does increase performance and avoid a lot of injuries"

From the tiny tots, to world champion, behind every gymnast is an enormous team with one common goal, "of course I'de love an Olympic gold"

And in London next year, this is the gymnast everyone will be watching. Lauren says "make a final and once I get to a final I'll see because on the day anything can happen, there's eight girls and one apparatus, it's anyone's game pretty much"

Lauren Mitchell now hopes to achieve what no other australian gymnast has ever done, olympic gold and the dreams of every WAIS gymnast. Liz says "I'd love to have that little piece of hardware on her shelf and for us to claim it as ours too"

Contact Details

www.wais.org.au

WAIS Phone: (08) 9387 8166