Ir­win earns ticket to Italy

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY COLIN MACGIL­LIVRAY

Wim­mera-raised gym­nast Hud­son Ir­win will again pull on the green and gold of Aus­tralia at the 2019 Sum­mer Univer­si­ade in Italy next month.

The Univer­si­ade, also known as the World Univer­sity Games, is an elite in­ter­na­tional mul­tisport com­pe­ti­tion for univer­sity ath­letes, sim­i­lar to the Olympics.

Ir­win, 18, grew up in the Wim­mera, train­ing at Na­timuk and Dis­trict Gym­nas­tic Club be­fore re­lo­cat­ing to Mel­bourne in 2015 and the Gym­nas­tics Queens­land High Per­for­mance Cen­tre in Bris­bane in 2017.

He has pre­vi­ously rep­re­sented Aus­tralia at events such as the Aus­trian Fu­ture Cup in Europe and was a mem­ber of Gym­nas­tics Aus­tralia’s ju­nior in­ter­na­tional squad in 2017-18.

He won suc­ces­sive all-around gold medals at the Aus­tralian Gym­nas­tics Cham­pi­onships as a ju­nior in 2015 and 2016.

Ir­win said he was thrilled when he was an­nounced in the Aus­tralian team ear­lier this month.

“Any op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent your coun­try is an hon­our and it is some­thing I take im­mense pride in,” he said. “It is not only

a chance for me to per­form on the in­ter­na­tional stage, but I can­not wait to have such a re­ward­ing op­por­tu­nity to learn from and com­pete against some of the top-level gym­nasts in the world.

“The games will also be my first time com­pet­ing in a mul­tisport event like both the Com­mon­wealth and Olympic games, so I am look­ing for­ward to be­ing im­mersed in the at­mos­phere of such an event.”

Ir­win won se­lec­tion in the Aus­tralian team with a strong show­ing at last month’s Aus­tralian Gym­nas­tics Cham­pi­onships in Mel­bourne.

He com­peted in the se­nior in­ter­na­tional cat­e­gory – the top level of com­pe­ti­tion at the cham­pi­onships – for the first time, plac­ing fourth all-around and win­ning bronze medals for his rings and par­al­lel bars rou­tines.

“Be­ing my first na­tional cham­pi­onships as a se­nior in­ter­na­tional gym­nast, I placed a larger fo­cus on per­form­ing my rou­tines as best I could while keep­ing in mind that I was also in con­tention for some medal plac­ings,” he said.

“I am very happy to have come away with a fourth plac­ing in the all-around cat­e­gory along with a third plac­ing on rings and par­al­lel bars.

“Over the two days of com­pe­ti­tion, I had also man­aged to per­form all 12 of my rou­tines with no ma­jor mis­takes so I could not have asked for much more.

“How­ever, I would like to im­prove on the dif­fi­culty of my rou­tines in the com­ing months and years as I con­tinue to com­pete at se­nior in­ter­na­tional level.”

Ir­win said he was look­ing for­ward to com­pet­ing along­side two of his Queens­land team­mates – Heath Thorpe and Michael Tone – as part of a three-man team at the games.

“This year, each coun­try send­ing a team to the com­pe­ti­tion only has three po­si­tions avail­able as op­posed to five po­si­tions pre­vi­ously,” he said.

“It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the stan­dard of the com­pe­ti­tion dif­fers with this change but, as al­ways, I hope to gain as much as I can from the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“To see my­self qual­ify from day one into the fi­nal days of com­pe­ti­tion against some of the top ath­letes in the field would be in­cred­i­ble.”

The 2019 Sum­mer Univer­si­ade will be in Naples, Italy, from July 3 to 14.

BAL­ANC­ING ACT: Hud­son Ir­win com­petes for Queens­land at the Aus­tralian Gym­nas­tics Cham­pi­onships last month. Ir­win won bronze on the par­al­lel bars. Pic­ture: WINKIPOP ME­DIA

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