Most elite athletes got into sport when they were kids. If for some it’s a long road to an elite level, for others everything moves very fast. 

My sport Rhythmic Gymnastics as well as gymnastics in general is a very young sport.

Ageing in gymnastics happens fast. In rhythmic gymnastics you can count in single digits those who competed in elite level and was older than 28. 

We are the young ones. By the time we are 15-16 we turn Senior International and when we are in our early 20 we are weathered veterans of the sport. 

Making my progress through levels Junior International 15 year old me competing at Australian Gymnastics Championship.

There are number of reasons why Rhythmic Gymnastics has such a short lifespan, but the main one is probably loss of flexibility with age. 

I started Rhythmic Gymnastics when I was 6, which might be considered to be a little bit late when some of my friends started as young as 3. Considering the fact that between ages of 3 and 6 I did dancing and acrobatics and had a solid base for gymnastics already. 

As young gymnasts progress through levels and some choose the elite pathways the amount of training increases, skills become harder, pressure grows to become better or the best. 

The thing is, if by the time you are 10 years old, with all basic training behind you and you haven’t fallen in love with the sport, you quit. And if you haven’t quit, Rhythmic Gymnastics will most likely take over your life.

Me at the age of 8 practicing my splits at home.

You become possessed and obsessed with it. If you naturally talented with crazy flexibility, you will turn into a rubber girl, or human pretzel, if your apparatus skills is your main talent you will be able to do tricks, that soccer or basketball tricksters will get jealous of. Or you can be an all-rounder and win Rhythmic competitions.

And even if you never make it into elite stream and train 6 hours per week vs 20 hours per week for elite, you are still regarded as you are regarded as a superhuman by your peers, because of the things you can do.

Some people who are not very familiar with Rhythmic Gymnastics and may have watched it once every 4 years, when it gets aired on TV, they think that Rhythmic is almost like dancing with ribbons and hoops.

In reality those “young ones” 10-12 year olds can probably do things that you can see professional circus performers do. 

…. where I had my first Gold Medal (and Team Silver) at the age of 10

For me my 10 y.o marked a point of my first breakthrough in sport: I made my first State Team qualification, Competed in my first Nationals, took my first Australian Championship podium and my first National Gold medal. Year later I won my first International Tournament in Spain.

My second significant breakthrough came in 2018, when I was 15 turning 16, becoming Senior International, storming though Commonwealth Games qualifications and making my first Senior International debut marked with 2 Commonwealth Games bronze medals. 

Now being 17 years old, with 6 World Cups and World Championships under my belt my sport is my world, which I am an expert in. But for most athletes from other sports I am “The Young One”. 

If I could give one advice to the parents of little kids who think what sport and when should their kids do, it would be –  “if you have a daughter, Rhythmic Gymnastics is the one and start them young!”