The Tasmanian trampoline gymnastics team will make their final preparations together at the state training centre in Kingston this weekend before heading to the Australian championships in Melbourne.
Leading the charge for Tasmania at Hisense Arena from May 29 to June 6 will be Launceston’s 2016 Olympic shadow squad member Jack Penny who will compete in the senior international men’s events.
Penny, who narrowly missed the Rio position, will step back up to the plate among a growing field of Olympic potentials from around the country.
State coach Ben Kelly believes Penny can perform well at the championships, but with every new Olympic cycle there are always surprises as the junior field step up.
Penny, who now works full-time with Hydro Tasmania, will need to balance an increasing workload with his training requirements to remain competitive and ahead of the field over the next four years.
In the junior divisions (15-18 years), reigning Tasmanian champion Patrick Schluter is expected to impress judges with his time of flight (bouncing height) despite being one of the youngest in the field.
Schluter will be joined by Matthew French, Eddy Rand, Fynn Sprott, Tim Wilson and Josh Hedley Williams in the junior men’s divisions, while Ruby Lowe, Blair Kirkpatrick, Maia Johnson and Tala Castro Sherrin will contest the junior women’s.
In the 11-14 year men, Indo-Pacific silver medallist Amber French will be a favourite for a podium finish, whereas newcomers to the international stream Flynn Caro and Tristan Raymond will compete for the first time in the youth category.
Kelly acknowledges that Tasmania has a growing pool of youth and junior gymnasts showing potential for future national representation, made evident by the success of eight junior gymnasts from Hobart and Launceston who represented Australia at the 2016 Indo-Pacific Championships in New Zealand.
The national championships will be the first trial for the 2017 world championships and world age championships being held in Bulgaria later this year. Along with Penny, both Matthew and Amber French, as well as Schluter and Caro will be vying for positions.
The championships will also showcase Tasmania’s strongest team to date, with a further 30 gymnasts competing in age divisions ranging from under-11 to 17 years-and-over.
The growth in the team has been attributed to the growing popularity of tumbling within gymnastics clubs.
Almost 1500 athletes will compete over 12 days to determine Australian champions across men's and women’s artistic, rhythmic, trampoline and acrobatic gymnastics.