Emily Whitehead will go to tokyo for artistic gymnastics

Emily Whitehead is one of the 11 Australian gymnasts named for the team headed to Tokyo Photo: Australian Olympic Committee/Dean Mouhtaropoulos

The 11-member Australian Gymnastics team is the largest since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, sending Australia's first Rhythmic Gymnastics group.

Australia will boast one of its largest Olympic Gymnastics teams at Tokyo 2020, with the 11-member team one shy of the 12-member team that went to Tokyo in 1964.

All 11 athletes are making their Olympic debut competing across the three gymnastics disciplines. Emily Whitehead, Georgia Goodwin and Tyson Bull will compete in Artistic Gymnastics.

Lidiia Iakovleva chases Australia’s first individual Rhythmic Gymnastics final berth, whilst Emily Abbott, Alexandra Aristoteli, Alannah Matthews, Himeka Onoda and Felicity White head to Tokyo as Australia’s first entry in the Rhythmic Gymnastics team event.

Australia will also have two athletes competing in the Trampoline event, with Jessica Pickering and Dominic Clarke looking to get Australia back on the podium for the first time since Sydney 2000, where trampolining made its Olympic debut.

Despite making their Olympic debuts in Tokyo, Iakovleva and Pickering represented Australia at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Iakovleva finished 23rd in the individual event, whilst Pickering took home silver.

Lidiia Iakovleva will compete in the Individual Rhythmic Gymnastics event in Tokyo Photo: Australian Olympic Committee/Buda Mendes

Ian Chesterman, Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic team praised the depth of gymnastics in Australia.

“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.

“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.

“I know they will represent Australia with pride and will have so many fans cheering them on from back home.

“Thank you to Gymnastics Australia, and to the families, friends, teammates, coaches and supporters who have helped make this Olympic dream a reality for these athletes.”

After overcoming a hip injury, rhythmic gymnast Emily Abbott will get to live out her dream of competing in the Rhythmic Gymnastics group event. Abbott recalled her declaration at the age of 10 that she’d be competing in the Olympics one day.

“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 was 10 which say ‘I want to represent Australia in the Olympics doing rhythmic 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.”

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After earning an Olympic quota place in October of 2019, Tyson Bull is now getting to live a lifelong dream and took the time to thank all those that have supported him over the years.

“This represents the culmination of a lifetime of passion, hard work and dedication to a craft I fell in love with as a five-year-old,” Bull said.

“It means doing my family and support network proud and in some small way, provides an opportunity to reciprocate all the selfless love and support I’ve had throughout my career from family, friends, coaches, physios, mentors, Gymnastics Australia, my university, the list goes on!

“Watching the Sydney Olympic Games as a 7-year-old while on holiday in Queensland, I remember getting up early to watch jumping Ji Wallace take home a silver and the first ever Australian Gymnastics medal.

“More than anything, I remember an overwhelming sense of national pride throughout the home Games and feeling a burning desire to one day compete on the biggest stage myself.”

Another member of the Rhythmic Gymnastics group event team, Himeka Onoda’s place in the team heading to Tokyo makes this games even more special. Onoda believed the Tokyo Games will a thank you to her mother.

23-year-old Himeka Onoda said she would be competing for her mum in Tokyo.

“My number one supporter who was always there for me and helped me work towards the Olympics was my beautiful mum,” Onoda said.

“I, unfortunately, lost her last year, so these Games are very much a part of my thank you from me to her for all of the thousands of selfless hours she spent supporting me with my sporting endeavours.

“My whole family is from Japan, which makes these Games even more special. The Olympic Games is something that is earnt after years and years of hard work and sacrifice, so I feel extremely grateful and honoured that I get to be in a position where I’m able to achieve this dream.”

Kitty Chiller AM, CEO of Gymnastics Australia said the team announcement today was a testament to not only the gymnasts but also the teams behind them.

“The build-up to these Games has been quite extraordinary and to be able to send across 11 gymnasts; our largest team in nearly 60 years, is a testament to the resilience, strength and determination of our gymnasts and their coaches,” said Chiller.

“Representing your country at an Olympic Games is an achievement only a small number of people get to experience.

“I want to wish all our gymnasts the very best as they strive to achieve their personal goals, while competing against the world’s best” 

Dominic Clarke heads to Tokyo to compete in the men’s trampolining event Photo: Australian Olympic Committee/Matt Roberts

Australian Gymnastics Team

NameDisciplineOlympic Games
Emily WhiteheadWomen’s ArtisticDebut
Tyson BullMen’s ArtisticDebut
Georgia GodwinWomen’s ArtisticDebut
Lidiia IakovlevaRhythmic IndividualDebut
Emily AbbotRhythmicGroupDebut
Alexandra AristoteliRhythmic GroupDebut
Alannah MathewsRhythmic GroupDebut
Himeka OnodaRhythmic GroupDebut
Felicity WhiteRhythmic GroupDebut
Dominic ClarkeTrampolineDebut
Jessica PickeringTrampolineDebut

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.

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