head over heels

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - by KYLIE WIL­SON

TWELVE year old Ge­or­gia Ste­fa­niak of Beech­worth has al­ways de­fied grav­ity.

Her mother An­nie said she first learned of her ta­lented gym­nas­tic daugh­ter’s strength and flex­i­bil­ity when, as an end­lessly ac­tive lit­tle girl, Ge­or­gia would spend hours hang­ing off the clothes­line or climb­ing ev­ery­thing she could. “She was al­ways quite strong,” An­nie said. A for­mer gym­nast her­self, An­nie said she wanted Ge­or­gia to ex­plore her tal­ents and po­ten­tial and en­joy her­self, and Ge­or­gia has been in­volved in gym­nas­tic classes and train­ing since be­fore she started school.

A typ­i­cal day might in­clude up to four hours of train­ing at Fly­away Gym­nas­tics on the Bor­der, as well as school in Thur­goona, but An­nie said Ge­or­gia’s en­thu­si­asm for the sport never wa­vers and her daugh­ter still rou­tinely wakes her up in the morn­ing to help her get to gym­nas­tics.

“Even when she’s got time off, she’s just flip­ping around ev­ery­where,” An­nie laughed.

And those years of train­ing have seen Ge­or­gia rise to promi­nence in the gym­nas­tics world.

Ge­or­gia was crowned the Vic­to­rian State Cham­pion last month for Na­tional Level 8 and has earned the right to rep­re­sent Vic­to­ria in the Aus­tralian Gym­nas­tics Cham­pi­onships at Hisense Arena in Mel­bourne this week.

It is the sec­ond time she has com­peted na­tion­ally, hav­ing com­peted at Na­tional Level 7 in 2017.

Ge­or­gia said she is pas­sion­ate about the pas­time as it chal­lenges her on a num­ber of lev­els.

“I love gym­nas­tics as it pushes me men­tally and phys­i­cally and makes me de­ter­mined,” the young­ster said.

“When I do rou­tines I feel con­fi­dent and am con­cen­trat­ing on not fall­ing.”

She has a num­ber of he­roes in the sport of gym­nas­tics, in­clud­ing Ash­ton Lock­lear and Aly Rais­man.

“I would love to meet Ash­ton one day,” Ge­or­gia said.

“Ash­ton has re­cently had a ma­jor shoul­der in­jury and has only just got back into ev­ery­thing, and as I have a shoul­der in­jury, it helps me to see what she does so I can con­tinue gym­nas­tics with de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“She is an in­spi­ra­tion for me to push through tough times and to con­tinue through pain.

“Another in­spi­ra­tional gym­nast is Aly Rais­man.

“I love Aly, as she is a hum­ble and out­stand­ing gym­nast. “Aly has had many great achieve­ments.” An­nie said Ge­or­gia is skilled in a num­ber of gym­nas­tic dis­ci­plines, spe­cial­is­ing in vault, bars, beam and floor, and has been es­pe­cially suc­cess­ful in floor, win­ning the state cham­pi­onship in the dis­ci­pline last year and win­ning a sil­ver medal this year.

She said Ge­or­gia’s cur­rent main goal is to work up to a Na­tional Level 10 in her cho­sen dis­ci­plines.

An­nie said she is proud of the con­tin­ued work Ge­or­gia puts into her gym­nas­tics, and of her be­ing one of the select few be­ing cho­sen for state and na­tional cham­pi­onship teams.

Ge­or­gia said she as­pired to con­tinue suc­cess in her sport, what­ever form that may take.

“My goal is to al­ways train and com­pete to my best abil­ity, suc­cess will then fol­low,” Ge­or­gia said.

“Our main aim is that she just en­joys it,” An­nie added.

Any­one look­ing to at­tend the Aus­tralian Gym­nas­tic Cham­pi­onships, at Hisense Arena in Mel­bourne, can find tick­ets through Tick­etek.

UPSIDE DOWN: Even at 13, Beech­worth based gym­nast Ge­or­gia Ste­fa­niak is al­ready com­pet­ing at a na­tional level.

WIN­NING: Ge­or­gia Ste­fa­niak has had much suc­cess in state and na­tional gym­nas­tics.

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