These days the Australian competitiors for the Junior Championships were announced. They will send a team of two individuals & a squad to the Netherlands:
- Individuals: McKeira Cumming (QLD) & Ellen Vincent (VIC)
- Team Zelos: McKeira Cumming (QLD), Kieran Halliday (WA), Kelsea Haste (NSW), Emily Jones (NSW), Ginger Kennett-McLaughlin (NSW), Isabella Napthali (NSW), Alexandra Playfoot (VIC) & Rebecca Vanderpeear (SA)
But how did they do this? We talked to the team manager Sarah Jones & her daughter, who is part of the squad. They live in a suburb of Sydney. We hope other countries can learn from their experiences.
To fulfill the dream of the really small Australian vaulting community to be part of the junior world championships, they invited Alicen Divita, American vaulter & coach, to help them with the whole process, like selection & training. Sarah, how was the internal selection trail for Team Zelos?
Expressions of interest were sent out to vaulters around Australia in December. Each vaulter interested was required to send in a video of specifically selected movements by Ali that were both compulsory and freestyle based. After analyzing these videos Ali selected 11 vaulters to participate in a 10 day clinic. The vaulters who participated in this included McKeira cumming, Emily Jones, Kieran Halliday, Eliza Wark-Chapman, Isabella Napthali, Alexandra Playfoot, Caitlin Vincent, Rebecca Vandepeear, Kelsea Haste and Ginger Kennett.
In April we were fortunate to have Bamdad Memarian a German coach from Cologne join the team as a coach alongside Ali. Unfortunately along the way Caitlin was unable to continue training with the team due to family reasons. As well as this, several weeks ago Eliza broke her ankle and is now unable to participate in vaulting with the team, however she is still considered a part of it. They have trained and competed on three different horses from two different states. These include Cognac from Kerri Wilson’s club, Southern Highlands VaultingTteam , Louis from Lyn Lynchs club, Sydney Vaulting Group, and Brigadoon from Mike Winwoods club, Kingfisher Vaulters.
Normally all the vaulters train in their own club up to three times a week. At home they also had to complete a fitness program twice a week. Now for the national vaulting team, they met 2 – 4 times a month. Did they became close friends?
Yes, during the last months the team has bonded and become not only members in a team but lifelong friends. To watch the juniors grow stronger and progress into something amazing was rewarding for the parents and coaches.
Emily Jones is one of the members of the squad.
What was your highlight of these last six months so far?
The state vaulting competition in queensland was one of our favorite moments because it was a time when the freestyle and compulsories came together and we truly became a team that was in unison with each other and we learnt that we had to not vault as individuals but as a cohesive group, looking out for each other. Our biggest down in this experience was losing Eliza as a vital part of the team and having to deal with the repercussions of that.
Her mother Sarah Jones adds:
It was also a struggle when it came to selections as this process was not clearly communicated.
Yes, communciation is everything! The team member come from all over the country, which makes attending a vaulting class difficult, but also very expensive. On the other hand the children are still in school. How did the coaches & parents deal with that?
Travelling by air from one state to another for training and competing was difficult as it was completely self funded and many parents felt the financial pressure.
In terms of schooling, all but one of our team members are in high school and two are currently completing their preliminary and High school certificate courses. It has been hard to not only approach the schools about the time they are taking off to compete overseas but also to juggle training and schoolwork. Some schools have been easier and more understanding than others but it is expected that the kids will be completing schoolwork while in Europe.
Was there any chance for financial support?
Receiving Sponsorship has been hard due to the delayed selection of the team, as part of the team had already travelled overseas before selection. We received a small contribution from equestrian New South Wales and Equestrian Queensland as well as Vaulting New South Wales which was greatly appreciated. On top of that the vaulters have individually been receiving support from local groups and individuals.
In a country that has never been a big vaulting nation I expect it difficult to bring dreams, hopes & what is really doable into order. Emily, did your coaches set a goal anyway?
Yes, a goal was set by Ali and Bamdad and that was to be selected for junior worlds in the Netherlands, Ermelo, and otherwise to compete at the CVI 3star. Our goal is to leave proud and feeling that within ourselves we have done our best and tried our hardest as the first ever junior team from Australia.
Sarah, you as a manager of the team did a great job, because you reched your first goal, the team was selected! What do you think other countries can learn from that?
Unlike other vaulting communities Australia is much younger and underdeveloped and it is an achievement in itself to be able to produce a junior team that can compete overseas. We are planning on competing on a horse from Bamdads club in Cologne, Kay Vorberg and the horses name is Worrell.
Where there is a will there is a way. If it is what the child really wants and the parents are willing to support them along the way it is always possible. Financially it can be difficult but everyone has family, friends and colleagues who also want to support your child and help turn dreams into realities. So if you really want it then I say go for it because anyone can get there if they truly believe they can.
VaultingNews wishes the team of Australia good luck & enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity!
Next week we will talk to the individual vaulters representing Australia. It will be an interesting view into the world of a junior’s life.