Olympic debutants jump for joy
Lauren Mitchell trains after the Women's Artistic Gymnastics team to head to London was announced at the AIS Gymnastics Hall. Photo: Colleen Petch
Larrissa Miller struggled to contain her emotions after realising her lifelong Olympic Games dream yesterday.
The 19-year-old became one of two debutants in coach Peggy Liddick's five-woman Australian artistic gymnastics team, alongside Emily Little, 18.
As the team was announced to the media in the presence of the sports minister Kate Lundy, opposition leader Tony Abbott and Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates, the enormity of the achievement hit home with Miller, who was in tears as she was congratulated by all three.
An emotional Larissa Miller is comforted by coach Peggy Liddick at the Olympic team announcement as Lauren Mitchell looks on. Photo: Colleen Petch
''It's still really hard to take in, it's so surreal, it's crazy,'' Miller said. ''I got told I was an Olympian, and I don't really know what happened after that.''
Miller and Little will join Georgia Bonora, Ashleigh Brennan and Lauren Mitchell - Australia's first female gymnastics world champion - in the experienced side as it attempts to match or beat its top-six Beijing finish.
Liddick had two impartial international judges help her choose the final five and three reserves from the trialling squad of 12 gymnasts.
Lauren Mitchell trains under the watchful eye of coach Peggy Liddick. Photo: Colleen Petch
''What it came down to was our draw, and we drew floor first, which means we end on balance beam, which is the most precarious of the women's events, and the most high-pressure,'' Liddick said.
''One millimetre off, you're off the beam. So what it came down to was I had to go with experience.''
Nothing will be left to chance in the quintet's London preparations.
Georgia Bonora under instruction from coach Peggy Liddick. Photo: Colleen Petch
Liddick will try to replicate Olympic conditions in training, including flash photography and distracting noises.
''I'll be putting them through all sorts of scenarios in the next few weeks … just try to change their comfort zone a little bit and see how they adapt,'' Liddick said. ''We put a strobe light on to simulate [camera flashes]. There's going to be flashes. You can't be a princess.
''We have distraction CDs that I've made which has all kinds of noises and sounds that you will encounter at an Olympic Games, so it's not going to be our nice quiet gym.''
Although Little and Miller found out on Sunday they were in the Olympic team, reality hasn't kicked in.
''I don't even feel like it's real yet, even though it's been a couple of days'' Little said.
''I guess everyone else finding out will help me realise that this is actually real.''
Miller moved from country Queensland to Brisbane to train at the Queensland Institute of Sport as a seven-year-old. But despite the years of dedication and training, she was still surprised by her inclusion in the team.
''Everyone - my coaches and Peggy [Liddick] - all believed I could be here today, even though I didn't,'' she said. ''That's the biggest thing for me, that belief.''
The women's artistic team completes Australia's Olympic gymnastics contingent, with Josh Jefferis, Australia's sole representative in the men's artistic gymnastics, Janine Murray (rhythmic gymnastics) and Blake Gaudry (trampoline) all previously announced.