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Artistic Gymnastics National Centre of Excellence closure a blow to women’s sport
On the eve of the Olympics, women’s sport in Australia has been dealt a huge blow by today’s shock revalation that one of the nation’s premier training centres for elite gymnasts is to close.
The Perth-based Women’s Artistic Gymnastics National Centre of Excellence, which has produced nine Olympians, 10 Commonwealth Games representatives and several World Championship medals, will shut its doors in December.
The centre, which has been operating for 28 years, is run by the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) and is funded by the Western Australian Government.
Gymnastics Australia President Jacqui Briggs-Weatherill stated “this is a very cruel and short sighted decision by WAIS that if not reversed will end the Olympic ambitions of many young women in one of Australia’s fastest growing sports.
“It was a decision made without warning and without consultation.
“Gymnastics provides the biggest catchment pool of young female athletes of any Olympic sport in Australia. 75% of the 180,000 registered members of our sport in Australia are women.
“What makes the closure decision particularly painful is that gymnastics is recognised as a national pacesetter in building and sustaining participant numbers. Since the Sydney Olympics, there has been a 150 percent increase in the number of registered gymnasts. Furthermore, 500,000 people now regularly participate in gymnastics in schools and clubs.”
Briggs-Weatherill said the Perth training centre has been preparing many of Australia’s top identified gymnastic prospects for the 2020 and the 2024 Olympic Games.
There are currently approximately 60 women training at the Perth National Centre of Excellence, including Western Australia’s 2010 World Champion, Lauren Mitchell.
Briggs-Weatherill added “the decision to close the centre comes at a time when Australia is already falling well behind the money spent by other competing nations on gymnastic high performance programs.
“For example, the UK spends around four times the amount Australia does on programs for elite gymnasts.
“Unless the State Government reverses the closure decision by WAIS, many talented gymnasts will be lost to the sport.”
If the decision is not reversed, the only remaining National Centres of Excellence for gymnastics in Australia will be the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics National Centre of Excellence in Melbourne, and the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics National Centre of Excellence based at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
28th June 2015 - BRIGGS-WEATHERILL REAPPOINTED PRESIDENT OF GYMNASTICS AUSTRALIA
15th December 2015 - GYMNASTICS WELCOMES RECOGNITION AS TOP 10 PARTICIPATION SPORT FOR CHILDREN
24th April 2015 - WAIS HIGH PERFORMANCE CENTRE GETS OFFICIAL OPENING
16th March 2015 - WESTERN AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF SPORT GOES FOR GOLD
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