COLUMN: Mary-Anne Monckton

'The hero fo the week' a column written by Emma Bailey - Great Britain

Being a huge gymnastics fan never having done the sport myself there are two things that always strike me when I meet a gymnast, these are;

1. Their focus from such a young age to realise their goals.

2. Their utter determination to succeed against all the odds.

In a recent episode of GymCastic I described Mary-Anne Monckton as a “walking episode of The Hard Way to Success.” I believe this to be true and I’m in admiration of her ability to keep on pushing despite the setbacks. This is why she’s one of my heroes.

2014 is a stand out year for Mary-Anne, having been dealt some huge injury blows throughout her gymnastics career 2014 was a year to remember.

Mary-Anne began gymnastics at the age of five in her home town of Newcastle. At just age seven she won a scholarship to the Australian institute of Sport in Canberra realising her tremendous potential her Mum and sister put their own plans on hold to join her in her pursuit of gymnastics glory.

Mary-Anne quickly rose up through the ranks and started to work towards representing Australia at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2012 Olympic Games. Having realised one of her goals in being selected for the Commonwealth team, Mary-Anne’s Commonwealth Games came to an abrupt end before they’d even begun, a week before training camp she had a freak accident in training damaging her ankle requiring reconstructive surgery.

Travelling alternate

In 2011 when the elite programme came to an end Mary-Anne moved again to the Victorian Women’s High Performance Centre in Melbourne to train with her current coaches Misha Barabach and Tracey Penaluna. Mary-Anne represented Australia at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo contributing solid scores to the team effort. London seemed the next stop, it didn’t go quite to plan and Mary-Anne was selected as travelling alternate.

Following the disappointment of London the long road to Glasgow began. It didn’t get off to the greatest of starts as Mary-Anne ended up only competing twice in 2013 at Australian Nationals and Worlds trials only competing on beam to protect her ankles. With coach Tracey’s guidance they adopted a different approach to training only training one beam session per day and then some cross training.  Mary-Anne found this new and exciting and got stronger and fitter without being in the gym for too many hours.

Australia decided that they wouldn’t send a team to Worlds in 2013.

Roll on to 2014 and a silver medal in Doha was a breakout performance for Mary-Anne showing her that she was able to compete on a world stage and when her coaches had always described her ‘potential’ she was finally able to see it for herself.

Glasgow

All was going according to plan then four weeks before Australian Nationals Mary-Anne had to undergo emergency surgery on her stomach. The doctors told her that she’d unable to train for six weeks however on waking up post surgery, Mary-Anne had other ideas and boom four weeks later she was Australian beam champion and selected to represent Australia in Glasgow. How did she achieve this? Following ten days of rest, she knew that all her training had to count for something and she refused to let a small matter of surgery stand in her way. She didn’t even use making the CWG a goal she just wanted to compete at nationals to the best of her abilities. She ran through her beam routine in her head thousands and thousands of times, and prepared mentally as she knew she was unable tophysically prepare, she was ready for the challenge.

The Commonwealth Games experience far exceeded Mary-Anne’s expectations, winning silver with the team was an amazing accomplishment for what was described as a ‘tough’ preparation for the Aussies. Then to cap it off with an individual silver on Beam was more than she could have imagined.

I asked Mary-Anne what it was like to have her family in the stands in Glasgow. She said that it was a strange experience having them there because usually the competitions are too far for the families to travel. She said that hearing them cheer for her and the team from the stands (ten family members) definitely helped her and her teammates feel like they had some support. She also wanted to showcase to her family that their personal sacrifices for her have been worth it and she wanted to perform to her best to show them what she could do.

Mary-Anne was selected to represent Australia once more with the team at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China, once again contributing solid scores for her team.

Mary-Anne has future goals of making the Worlds team in 2015 and qualifying a full team to the Olympics in 2016. Her main focus is to remain healthy and to be able to compete to the best of her ability. She is training hard to maintain her beam consistency and looking at getting her DTY competition ready as well as some upgrades on bars.

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