From the Land Down Under: How Does a Jr Looks like?

Last week, we not only talked to the manager of the Australian team, but also to the individual vaulters, who will represent their country at the junior world championships in ther Netherlands. It isn’t much time left, so some of them are already in Europe.

That’s one of the problems for non European atheletes. They have to plan & book moths earlier. Luckily, everyones effort payed out & they were selected after our interview. If they weren’t they would have used their flight tickets for holidays.

Ellen Vincent & Mckeira Cumming aligned the whole last year for the goal “junior worlds”. That includes a lot of training, travelleing & qualification competitions.

Ellen & I are hopefully going to be selected as Individuals, as we have both qualified at international competitions. We have been vaulting friends & competed against each other for many years now! We have always loved sharing our ideas and talents with each other!

Me and Ellen often meet at Vaulting clinics around Australia where we are coached by international coaches and Australian coaches. These are fun and we learn new things to take back to our coaches to further develop our skills.
Australia is a really small vaulting nation. There are not many clubs or competitions. So it was set that the two girls will meet soon.
Mckeira and I first met each other at a local competition in Queensland (where Mckeira lives). The national clinic held in Canberra in 2012 where we became really good friends as we are similar ages and were friendly competitors.

Vaulting is a very complex sport. Therefore it is tough to prepare all parts. Mckeira trained a lot, but what changed, when she decided to go for the worlds?

As vaulters the three elements you need to work on is your strength, agility and flexibility. Also barrel training and horse training is vital to perfecting your performance. I have focused on intensely training for junior worlds for many months now, however, before this I was training for other competitions and performances, so really I have been training for many years, in preparation for Junior Worlds!

Ellen & I are going to Junior Worlds for individual. I am also lucky to be a part of the squad that will hopefully be the Junior Australian Squad (team of 6 vaulters) once selected. This team is full of some of the best junior vaulters from around Australia. There are 5 vaulters from NSW, one vaulter from Melbourne, me from Queensland and one vaulter from WA. Our team consists of 9 people. Three of which are reserves, as only 6 of us can compete in junior worlds. Hopefully once we are all selected we will be the Australian Junior Team and we will compete proudly for Australia, Individually and in a squad!!!

Mckeira Cumming
Ellen, are you also in the squad?
The coach of the team Zelos squad Ali Divita invited me to be a part of the group however due to costs and school I was unable to be a part of the Australian junior squad. However both Mckeira and I hope to be selected to compete at the juniors as individuals
All of them were selected last week. Congratulations! What is the theme of the squads freestyle, Mckeira?

The teams theme is ‘tribal warriors’. It’s just a theme we have chosen to portray with music from Cirque Du Soleil. We enjoy the dramatic expression to the tribal story. The music inspires us all!

Australia sent individual vaulters to the World Equestrian Games since 1990. In 2010 the team reached the 9th place. But for the first ever junior world championship they had to start at zero. And on top of it, they had just nine months for it.

Our squad was initiated at the Junior Development clinic at the end of last year, where we trained with many coaches and came up with an idea of creating a vaulting squad for junior worlds. The people who were interested then were invited to a week long intensive clinic to start blossoming our squad. Our squad since then have been meeting 3 weekends a month, which has given us the opportunity to bond as a team, train our fitness together and form a team freestyle. This is often held in the Southern Highlands NSW and I have had to travel on a Friday afternoon (after school) and return to QLD on a Sunday afternoon to be home for school the next day.

Wow, thats sounds like an exhausting life for such a young person. Mckeira, how did you do it with school?

Being away for three weekends a month was hard to juggle with school work and things I was committed to at home. I would often do all my homework and assignments during the week so I didn’t have any work to complete on weekends so I could be fully committed to training. However, our coach Ali Divita from America would always be understanding about our school commitments and would give us time to complete this. I was also the main role in my school musical ‘Annie’, and I was having to commit myself to this during the week and would sometimes have to leave early from training in NSW to return home for musical rehearsals. I was Annie and I had many lines to learn which added to all my commitments. However, I time managed and got through this with little trouble

Annie, too? Amazing. That sounds like time managing was another part that you had to bring to perfection.

Yes! I have definitely learnt how to manage my time effectively through vaulting!

My freestyle theme is funnily enough ‘Annie’. So yes I will be the little girl in the red dress for Junior Worlds too! From the stage onto the horse!

Perfect practice!

Ellen, did you have trouble to combine vaulting & school?

As I’m currently in year 11 it isn’t that big of a deal taking so much time out of school. I’m also completing a year 12 subject which this year is my main subject priority. I’m doing school the same as every other student. I like to think I’m an organised person so I inform my teachers that I’ll be away for a certain amount of weeks and organise what I need to study in order to stay up-to-date with the rest of my class.

That means you have to train at home, too. With a different coach. How looks a normal week for you? Mckeira:

Yes, during the week I train at home, with my coach Becky Hilman and on my horse with my mum lunging. I also do strength training and agility and flexibility training individually.


For my training I usually try to vault on the horse 2-3 times per week depending on my school work as well as doing lots of barrel training, continuous (running), strength and flexibility training.

This year I went overseas in May and my aim for those competitions was to qualify with an easy routine that would secure me the score with it not being too overwhelming. It’s too late to change my theme although I don’t really have one I just have some really upbeat and sassy music that wakes up the crowd! I like it because it’s not a serious routine therefore I can have fun with no pressure and just enjoy my time in the spotlight.

Ellen Vincent
Ellen Vincent with Crossini during her freestyle to the song “Bang”. The theme is stars colliding in the universe. Her unitard was made by Kim Nordin. Picture by Adrea Fuchshumer.

Individuals need qualifying scores to be allowed to compete in the world championships. How did you manage to reach them, Ellen?

I am travelling overseas to Austria to train for a couple of weeks with Stefan Csandl and Karin Böhmer where they’ve been kind enough to give me a ride on their beautiful horse Crossino. I am also training with Marie Doppelinger who is the Austrian contender for the championships. This will give me an amazing opportunity to be supported and have fun whilst competing at such a high level competition.

That is a really nice cooperation & for sure an opportunity to learn a lot.

Mckeira, have you been in a squad before? If so, what is the difference now?

I was in a senior squad last year and we were trying to qualify for WEG. However, we did not start early enough to be prepared for this goal. We also had issues with finding horses to compete on. The difference between that team and Team Zēlos is that from the start we have had a committed coach Ali Divita, who has been there to train us, help find horses, help create unitards and prepare us for competitions. We have also had so many generous people who have lent their horses for our squad to train and compete in Australia. This was important for our squad, to show the selectors and judges that we are good enough to compete at Junior Worlds. And we couldn’t have done it without these people.

That is vaulting & that is one of the reasons why we love it so much. Everyone tries to help a little bit. In your case it ended with the adventure of the World Championships. Girls, we wish you all the luck & a lot of success in Ermelo. Hopefully you can show what you are able to do. Thank you for the view into a juniors life.

Adele Feuerstein

I am Adele Feuerstein the founder of the blog. I used to vault & train teams in Germany. Now I am only an observer & love to share my knowledge about international vaulting with you.

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