We’re excited to celebrate Isla’s focus, skill and achievements in this edition of ‘Spotlight On’. You’ll love reading her story and hopefully feel inspired and motivated to try something scary!
Year at school: Year 9
Sports/ Activity: Gymnastics
What is your favourite sport and why do you love it? My favourite sport is gymnastics. I love gymnastics because I love being upside down, flipping and swinging around. I love testing my limits, trying new skills and focusing on achieving my goals while seeing the journey of how far I have come since the beginning of that skill.
How did you become involved in your sport? I have done gymnastics since the age of 4. Back when I was in England I did gymnastics at the most local club to me but it wasn’t a competitive club and I wanted to go further in gymnastics. When I moved to Australia (4 years ago) I immediately went to find the closest club to me but it also wasn’t competitive, I stayed there for a couple years but then went to find a club that competed. I found one and got placed into level 3 last year, I did 2 competitions and I absolutely loved it but then found out my coach was leaving and was worried that the club wouldn’t find a replacement so I moved to another club. I am doing level 5 this year and can’t wait to compete again.
How often do you have to train and what does a typical training session involve? I train on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for 12 hours a week and a typical session normally consists of conditioning, strength, skills on different apparatuses (bars, beam, vault and floor) then ends with stretching.
The hardest part about gymnastics is the mindset that is required. In order to succeed you need to try scary and new things
What is the hardest part about playing your chosen sport? The hardest part about gymnastics is the mindset that is required. In order to succeed you need to try scary and new things while thinking about the things required to achieve that skill. Often mental blocks can occur in gymnastics (this is where you can physically do a skill but keep holding back) these are quite hard to get over and it is definitely quite challenging, it can also be frustrating when it happens but once visualising the skill and taking it back a few steps to drills and spotting the fear can be overcome.
Describe any challenges you’ve had to overcome to develop your skills in your chosen sport. Mid last year my coaches noticed that my hips were crooked and constantly twisted. I had to see an osteopath fortnightly who worked on fixing my alignment, a day after the procedure I had very bad leg pain and was struggling to walk normally. My body was so used to being crooked that it didn’t know how to walk and work aligned. I rested and worked towards getting my body used to the changes, when It was better I started trying some basic skills but started to struggle. I noticed that my flexibly had decreased quite a bit than before as my hips were straight and my flexibility was used to being crooked, I was upset that I couldn’t do some of the skills that were so easy to me before. This was quite challenging as I was worried that I wouldn’t have skills that I could do before the appointments, but it is better to be aligned and I slowly worked towards getting the skills and flexibility back to where it was.
Do you have goals you are training to achieve in your chosen sport? My goals in gymnastics is too make it to Queensland state championships this year (or next year if the event is cancelled) which requires a 34 all-around score, it will be challenging as I haven’t trained level 5 yet but I am going to try my best. Another goal I have is to become a senior gymnast (level 7 above).
Who inspires you? Oksana Chusovitina inspires me as she is currently the oldest person to ever compete in the Olympics in gymnastics (at 41 years old). She only started gymnastics at age 13 which is the same age I began competitively taking gymnastics. Sometimes I feel that as I started (competitively) in the sport later it will be hard to ever make it to the Olympics but she shows me that anything is possible and if you want to compete in the Olympics you can even at an older age.
What do you want to be when you’re older: I would like to be a gymnastics coach when I’m older and own a gymnasium. I absolutely love gymnastics and it would be a dream to be able to teach others. I would also like to develop and own a gymnastics wear brand, I love active wear and I love designing leotards and crop and short sets and bringing out my creative side.