FreeG athletes awarded most improved

Almost 100 FreeG athletes took centre-stage at West HQ for the final round of the FreeG Grand Prix Series and State Championships. Now in its third year, the event judges and audience were blown away by the improvement across all divisions – particularly the Freestyle event.

“Freestyle is by far the hardest event,” says event Judge and Gymnastics Australia Commission Member Ben Cork. “Every competition has a different setup and you never know exactly what you’re going to get. To be the best you really need a toolbox of skills across almost all types of equipment to be able to pick and choose what is best for the day.”

Athletes have 60 seconds to impress the panel, who are evaluating them on their execution, creativity and difficulty. The State Championship course this year included bars, mini-tramp, pommels and a range of spotting boxes arrayed across the floor.

“If you want to make it up onto the podium, you really need to perform at least one skill on each different type of equipment. There’s got to be diversity. Those creativity marks cover not only the coverage of the course, but the way the athletes interact with each element. One of my favourite moves today was by Daisy from the ACT, when she used the poles of the parallel bars to swing on. That’s classic FreeG – looking at this traditional equipment in new and exciting ways.”

Although the event shares some similarities with Tricking and Parkour, Ben is quick to remind athletes and coaches to open their minds.

“It’s not enough to do great Parkour. This is a freestyle event so you really have to branch out and fill that toolbox with a wider range of skills. The athletes who we saw leading today were able pull out moves on the tramp and the pommel as well as delivering solid vaults and tricks.”

Caedyn Hardy from Manly Warringah, one of the first coaches in NSW to launch FreeG, sat on the judging panel for the Intermediate Division. “Intermediate really challenges you to be creative,” he said. “You’re not allowed to sault, so you need to look at other ways of impressing the crowd. We saw some really great three, four and five skill connections today, things we have never seen before. We’re seeing more work on the bars, particularly with holds and calisthenics, and people are using the box setups in more innovative ways – rather than only vaulting them. I’m so impressed. ”

The State Championships was another milestone in the growth of the sport, with participation almost doubling from 2018. This year there were almost 150 individual performances across both the Freestyle and Speed-run events.

“We’re now at the point where we need to look at the format and see how we can play with the structure in order to welcome more participants,” says Events and Sports Development Officer (GFA) Natalie Jaques. “We’ve outgrown the current format.”

With an active and engaged working group and the support of an expanding club base, 2020 promises to be an exciting year for #FreeGAus in NSW.