Bouncing back into Olympic contention
Trampoline athlete Matthew Weal puts on a demonstration of his skills in Canberra as part of the Vuly's Olympic Tour. Photo: Jay Cronan
As the inquisition continues into Australia's poor London Olympics, Ji Wallace has backed trampolining to help lead the nation out of the doldrums.
The Sydney 2000 trampoline silver medallist, who was in Canberra as part of Vuly's Olympic athletes tour on Saturday, backed Australia's developing talent in the fringe sport.
He said the ''feeling like you're flying'', combined with his parents' concern for his safety, had led him to his local trampolining club and started him on the Olympic path.
Wallace said the next generation of Olympians could be found bouncing around in backyards all around the country.
''You mention the word Olympics and people's ears prick up, in any sport, and I've lived it, breathed it, loved it and want to pass the flame on to someone else and let them experience it,'' he said.
''We've had a representative at each Olympics since 2000 but, hopefully, at 2016 we can get someone in the finals … you can literally go from your backyard to the Olympic Games and there are not many sports you can do that.''
Following his Olympic success, Wallace started performing with Cirque du Soleil in Macau, but an injury left him with limited movement in his right ankle and he moved into a coaching role with the world-famous troupe.
Upon returning to Australia, he was excited by the emerging talent in his sport.
Matt Weal, from Castle Hill in Sydney, was among the top four trampolinists in the country and had his sights set on the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
While admitting trampolining was an under-resourced sport, he said things were getting better.
The 18-year-old was also lured to the sport by the flying feeling.
''It's slowly getting more popular and we're getting more support from the AIS,'' Weal said. ''It's quite an impressive sport to watch and you don't actually realise how hard it is until you climb on a tramp.''