Gymnast takes off to aim for Olympic heights

DETERMINATION and a great deal of talent have Wheelers Hill gymnast Shona Morgan on the edge of a long-held dream.

Morgan, 17, with Georgia Bonora and Emma Dennis, is part of a three-girl act from Waverley Gymnastics Centre on the threshold of Olympic selection.

Last month, with Australia, set to pick a six-member squad for Beijing, the trio finished top-six in round one of the Olympic trials in Melbourne.

Morgan finished second with 60-plus point scores and personal bests that placed her within the world’s elite gymnasts.

After the stellar results, Morgan felt closer to fulfilling her Olympic dream – one she’s held since she was eight. But with another trial in Canberra this month, she doesn’t want to lose focus.

“It did [change my expectations] a little bit. I wasn’t expecting to get that result. I do have a bit more confidence [but] I need to focus and not worry about the future.”

She said she had “no idea” where she ranked in the world, having improved since her first and only world championships last year.

“I competed well in the bars and beam, but there was room to improve on the floor and vault.”

Her WGC coaches, who identified her talent early on, have been ironing out Morgan’s small technical kinks.

During a fastidious 32-hours-a-week training regime, painstaking adjustments are being made to her technique, such as making sure her knees are kept straight and the lines of her movements kept clean.

In competition, she has to keep her mind clear, knowing that any imprecise movements, whether on the beam, bars, vault, or floor, can be costly.

“It can be nerve-racking but I don’t focus on that. I just focus on doing it well and right.”

She said even as an eight-year-old she had “aerial awareness” and no fear of tumbling from giddying heights.

“When you’re young … you don’t really have the fear. You don’t understand the physics.”

Two years ago, what could have been a career-ending setback turned into a catalyst for greater success.

During a take-off in a routine training session, the Achilles tendon snapped off one of her heel bones.

After surgery, doctors expected her to resume after 12 months.

But Morgan decided that with hard work, she could come back sooner and was in full training within six months.

The next year, she represented Australia in challenges against Japan and China and in the world championships.

She attributes her success to her determination, hard work, and her Waverley Gymnastics Centre coaches headed by John Hart and Shaoyi Jang.

Asked what the secret was behind the center producing three world-class gymnasts, Morgan said it was the relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.

“I just really like the gym there. It’s really fun.”