A young competitor practices before competing in the Queensland State Skipping Championships held at the Sleeman Sports Centre, Chandler, April 28. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
Forget Miss Mary Mack; that lady’s poetic exploits wouldn’t be able to keep up with today’s skipping elite.
Faster than even Rocky could hope for, today’s skippers are lean, mean, gymnastic machines, and even the rope turners are expected to get in on the action.
About 150 of the state’s best gathered at the Sleeman Sports Centre over the weekend to practice their skills ahead of the national championships in late June, with Australia’s best skippers then moving on to the world championships in Florida the following month.
Queensland’s Jackie Robba, the current skipping world champion in the open women’s category, said the sport had well and truly moved on from primary school playgrounds.
“We have had increasing numbers every year, the competitions keep getting bigger and we are sending more and more skippers overseas to the worlds,” the 19-year-old said.
“It just keeps getting more and more popular.”
Part of that popularity was down to initiatives like the Heart Foundation’s Jump Rope for Heart, said Ms Robba, but a large part was “just how easy it is to get involved”.
But competing at a professional level was not for the faint hearted.
As the popularity has increased, so has the degree of difficulty, with judges expecting to see some serious gymnastic moves from the skippers, as well as involvement from the rope turners.
That means coordinating tricks from the turners with those by the jumpers. Quickly.
“The kids going to worlds are probably training four times a week for a couple of hours at least,” Ms Robba said.
“It is intense at this level.”
But for those wanting to get in touch with their inner child, or even just get fit, Ms Robba said skipping is just as accessible as when Miss Mary Mack and her buttoned down dress was the talk of the school yard.
“All you need is the rope,” she said.
“Just any rope and a bit of space. It’s really very easy to pick up and it is really, really good for your fitness.”