BELMONT trampoline athlete Jessica Pickering will be Australia’s and the Oceania region’s sole female competitor at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in October.
The 2018 Games will be the third edition of the Youth Olympics and are being help in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Pickering’s place for the Games was announced by Gymnastics NSW last week, but the 17-year-old earned both Australia’s team spot and her own individual position in recent competition.
She secured Australia’s place as the Oceania representative for the Games at the Australian Gymnastics Championships in June. A high score secured in preliminaries confirmed her place when competitors in the finals failed to beat the score.
Only a certain age bracket can compete at the Youth Olympic Games, and Pickering pinned on her hopes on qualifying for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It’s exciting, I’m feeling really strong at the moment,” Pickering said. “We found out about the Youth Olympics about two years ago and have been working towards that goal for a while.”
We found out about the Youth Olympics about two years ago and have been working towards that goal.Jessica Pickering
Pickering has competed on the world stage before at continental and global events, and will encounter some of the athletes she has faced before in Argentina.
“The top competitors in the world championships that I’ve been to previously are probably going to be at the [Youth Olympic Games],” she said. “It’s super exciting. It’s a very friendly sport, we all get along quite well.”
A Year 11 student at Belmont High School, Pickering trains with members of the Australian senior trampoline team in the school’s gymnasium each day after school as part of the Eastlake Trampoline Sports club.
“It’s very long days,” she said. “I get here at about 8.30 in the morning and don’t leave until about nine o’clock at night. I come straight from school, set up the gym, and then I train and coach.”
Australian senior coach Brett Austine, who just happens to be a PDHPE teacher at Belmont High, will also head to Argentina as coach of the Games team.
Pickering said training with the country’s elite athletes and coach has helped her development in the sport over the past decade.
“This is actually my tenth year,” she said. “This [Youth Olympic Games] is like a cherry on top of the ten-year anniversary. I started at Glendale Sports Centre … I was bouncing on the trampolines and I enjoyed it. I’ve been here ever since.”
Such was Pickering’s desire to compete at the Youth Olympic Games, only held every four years, she had to forgo competing in senior events as doing so would have rendered her ineligible for the Games.
The Gymnastics NSW Country Championships are being held at Hunter Sports Centre in Glendale on July 12-16. An injured finger will be prevent Jessica Pickering from competing.