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Piper earns her chance to impress
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.
Talented Hervey Bay gymnast Piper Dower (Wide Bay Gymnastics Club).
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.