Piper earns her chance to im­press

Fraser Coast Chronicle - - GOOD MORNING FRASER COAST - MATTHEW MCIN­ER­NEY Matthew.McIn­er­[email protected]­re­gional­me­

GYM­NAS­TICS: Piper Dower, one of the Fraser Coast’s most promis­ing ju­nior gym­nasts, has earned the chance to train with in­ter­na­tional stars and Com­mon­wealth Games ath­letes.

GYM­NAS­TICS: She is one of the youngest ath­letes to have been awarded an op­por­tu­nity to train along­side state and in­ter­na­tional gym­nasts, but Her­vey Bay’s Piper Dower is not fazed by the rep­u­ta­tion of her train­ing part­ners.

The eight-year-old pocket rocket who trains at Wide Bay Gym­nas­tics Club (and any­where that has space to prac­tice) is among an elite squad of gym­nasts who will train at Gym­nas­tics Queens­land high per­for­mance cen­tre for the next two weeks, and will be in­vited to re­turn for each school hol­i­day break this year.

It is an op­por­tu­nity for which Piper has lit­er­ally waited years. Three years ago, when older sis­ter Indi was train­ing un­der and along­side some of the state’s best, a then fiveyear-old Piper sat out­side the front door wish­ing she could get in the door.

“My sis­ter was al­lowed to go in and train but I was too young so I was sit­ting on the floor out­side,” Piper said. “When they walked out I would quickly do a pose so I could show them I’m a gym­nast too and that I could go in and do it as well. It feels re­ally nice to be there.

“I will be train­ing there with all of my In­sta­gram friends, it’s go­ing to be re­ally, re­ally fun. My goal is to be a cham­pion.”

Piper, who al­ready trains at least 20 hours per week and is also a dancer, has more than 10,300 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram, a fol­lower list which in­cludes elite gym­nasts along­side other bud­ding young ath­letes from across the world.

“I get to train with some peo­ple who were at the Com­mon­wealth Games,” Piper said.

Gym­nas­tics Queens­land women’s high per­for­mance pro­gram man­ager Tr­isha Hade told the Chron­i­cle Piper, and other in­vited gym­nasts, are iden­ti­fied ath­letes who demon­strate a high level of tal­ent, and have the po­ten­tial to com­pete at an in­ter­na­tional level.

“That is the goal of the pro­gram, to pro­duce ath­letes of an in­ter­na­tional stan­dard,” Hade said. “It’s only for those in­vited to the pro­gram. We have had nu­mer­ous Olympians, world cham­pi­onship ath­letes and Com­mon­wealth Games medal­lists; we had two Comm Games mem­bers from that pro­gram last year.”

Hade said there were three age groups, and while Piper, who is among the youngest to be in­volved in years, will be en­cour­aged to con­tinue train­ing at Wide Bay Gym­nas­tics Club, she will be af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to train at the high per­for­mance cen­tre dur­ing the school hol­i­days.

“We tend not to take ath­letes in at a young age though Piper is the youngest we’ve had for a very long time,” Hade said.

“Be­cause she lives so far away, we’re look­ing to work with her to con­tinue train­ing at her club, be­cause the coaches there are great and do­ing a great job with her, but then we’ll bring her down in the hol­i­days so she can work with our coaches at the pro­gram.

“They’ve had in­ter­na­tional suc­cess and are some of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing and most suc­cess­ful coaches.”

Piper’s dream is to com­pete at an Olympic Games.

Photo: Matthew McIn­er­ney

Tal­ented Her­vey Bay gym­nast Piper Dower (Wide Bay Gym­nas­tics Club).

Photo: Matthew McIn­er­ney

THE RIGHT PATH: Tal­ented Her­vey Bay gym­nast Piper Dower, who trains at Wide Bay Gym­nas­tics Club, was in­vited to train at Gym­nas­tics Queens­land’s high per­for­mance cen­tre in Bris­bane.

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