Mary-Anne Monckton misses Olympic gymnastics team

BELMONT-born gymnast Mary-Anne Monckton admitted it was a case of so near yet so far after being named yesterday as one of two travelling reserves in the Australian team for the London Olympics.

The 17-year-old, who was introduced to the sport more than a decade ago at Windale’s PCYC, will fly to England with the national team.

She will continue training in case of injuries or other unforeseen circumstances leading into the world’s greatest sporting event, but she will stay outside the athletes’ village.

While Monckton was ‘‘pretty devastated’’ by yesterday’s news, she vowed to make amends over the next four years to ensure there is no such heartache when Australia’s squad for Rio de Janeiro is selected.

‘‘There’s still lots of World Cups this year after the Olympics, and there’s the worlds next year, and the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and obviously Rio in 2016,’’ Mockton said yesterday.

‘‘But when you’ve been training 10 years for it, the finality of it is pretty overwhelming. But I’ve still got a couple of years left in me and I just have to aim for that.’’

Bars specialist Larissa Miller and all-rounder Georgia Bonora claimed the final two berths on the Australian team, alongside former world champion Lauren Mitchell, Emily Little and Ashleigh Brennan. The latter three had pre-qualified.

The decision to keep Mitchell off the bars to protect her tender shoulder opened up a spot for Miller, who, along with Little, will be heading to her first Olympics.

A realistic Monckton admitted yesterday that she had not stated a strong enough case for selection.

‘‘Obviously I’m pretty devastated that I didn’t reach my ultimate goal, but at the same time I just didn’t fit the puzzle,’’ Monckton said.

‘‘It’s a really small puzzle this time. It’s only five girls.

‘‘They really needed a bars and beam person, for fifth spot, and it just came down to consistency.

‘‘I just wasn’t as consistent in competitions and training as I planned to be, so obviously I’m a bit upset, but at the same time I’ve just got to know my role in the team, do my job, and whatever happens happens.’’

Monckton has overcome a number of setbacks in her career, including a training accident that cost her a spot at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and ankle surgery in 2009 that incapacitated her for almost a year.

But she said this was the most painful blow of all, having chased her Olympic dream since the age of seven, when her family moved to live in Canberra so that she could train at the Australian Institute of Sport.

‘‘At the time I didn’t really realise what was going on,’’ she said.

‘‘I just loved gymnastics and they told Mum I was good at it ... I’m just really thankful that she gave me that opportunity, to get in the system and train at the AIS.

‘‘Then in 2010, they moved the gymnastics program to Victoria and I had to move there on my own.

‘‘But it’s been the best thing ever. No regrets.’’

When her gymnastics career is done, the year 12 student hopes to return to her home town.

‘‘I definitely want to come back, because all my cousins and uncles and aunties and grandparents are still there,’’ she said.

‘‘All my cousins are a bit older, and having their own kids and that, so I want to come back and be near them when my gymnastics is over.

‘‘But who knows when that will be.’’

Judging by Monckton’s favourite saying on her website profile: ‘‘You try, you fail, you try, you fail, but the only time your really fail is when you stop trying,’’ there may not be any family reunions for at least another four years.

The team will head to London early next month.

Australia’s gymnastics contingent is now complete after Janine Murray (rhythmic), Blake Gaudry (trampoline) and Josh Jefferis (men’s artistic) were named earlier.

Charlestown trampolinist Shaun Swadling is the non-travelling reserve behind Gaudry.

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