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Australian Gymnastics

The Australian Gymnastic Federation (AGF) is the sole national governing body for the sport of gymnastics and sets the rules and policies that govern gymnastics in the hundreds of clubs throughout Australia.

The AGF was formed officially in September 1949 under the name: Australian Gymnastic Union. Prior to this official formation, gymnastics was organised on a club basis in the states of New South Wales,Victoria and Queensland.

The dominant clubs of the era were Wesley Collegians Melbourne under the coaching expertise of Mr. Bonnie Frank, the YMCA in Melbourne under Mr. Alf Lorback and the Sydney YMCA.

The establishment of the Federation was initiated by Mr. Jack Carey (VIC) with Mr. Harry Morris (VIC) and Mr. Bill Wilson (NSW). These gentlemen formed the first Executive of the Gymnastic Union with Mr. Morris elected as the Federation's first President.

After the formation of the Australian Gymnastic Union, the first Australian Championships were held in 1950 for men only. Four years later the Australian Gymnastic Union was granted membership in the Federation International de Gymnastique (FIG), the sport's international controlling body. It was opportune that the organisation joined at this time as it was just prior to the 1956 Olympic Games.

The Australian Gymnastic Union was first represented on the international scene at the Olympic Games in Melbourne where both Men's Artistic Gymnastics and Women's Artistic Gymnastics were represented. Even though both artistic disciplines were represented at the 1956 Olympic Games, not until 1959 did women participate in the Australian Championships.

As the organisation changed so too did the name. In the first instance it was the Australian Gymnastic Union and in 1968 it became the Australian Amateur Gymnastic Union.

The Federation's name was changed to the Australian Gymnastic Federation in 1977 and finally in 1981 the Federation became incorporated in the ACT. Similar to many other sporting organisations, the AGF grew like the Federal system and the State Associations affiliated with the AGF in the following sequence:

        1949   Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales
        1955   Western Australia
        1956   South Australia
        1969   Australian Capital Territory
        1970   Tasmania
        1981   Northern Territory

As the administrative organisation developed, a complete technical structure was put in place to meet the requirements of the International Statutes & Technical Regulations.

The historical order of development saw Mens Gymnastics first, then Womens Gymnastics with the 1956 Olympic Games and not until 1977 did Rhythmic Sportive Gymnastics (RSG) officially become part of the AGF. As for the fourth discipline of the International Gymnastic Federation, the AGF officially accepted responsibility, in 1986, for the development of General Gymnastics, which caters for the participation/recreation discipline of gymnastics and represents the "sport for all" philosophy. The fifth discipline; Sports Aerobics, officially 'oined the Federation in 1997.

In keeping with the spirit of incorporation and with the professional manner in which sport was being developed, the AGF adopted a Board of Management structure for its policy, development and control of the sport, moving away from the traditional State Association based Executive. Stability of personnel has been evident within the organisation. The first President, Mr Harry Morris was appointed the first patron of the Australian Gymnastic Federation when he left office in 1971.

The second President, elected in 1971 was Mr. Jim Barry (MBE). Nine years after the death of Mr. Harry Morris, a second patron, Mr. R.J.Ellicott (QC) was appointed to the position. The third President, Mr. Murray Chessell, a former member of the 1968 Olympic Gymnastic Team, filled the position of President in November 1996.

The organisation continued to develop through the dedication of many volunteers and in the late 70's with the introduction of Federal Government funding assistance, full time personnel were appointed in administration. The AGF was then able to take on greater responsibility, with the development of the gymnasts, programs, coaches education and representation at international events and meetings.

The first full time administrator was appointed in 1978 with the second appointed in 1979, Peggy Browne. From there, the appointments included a National Coaching Director, National Development Director and other management and administrative personnel responsible for events, finance, membership services, merchandise, orders & despatch and technical matters.

The greatest impact on the improvement of gymnasts competing in the international arena resulted from the inclusion of gymnastics in the first intake of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 1981. Since then, progress has been quite dramatic, not only in competition results but also in the catalytic effect this has had on State Associations, State Governments and Clubs. State Institutes and High Performance Centres have been built for the specific purpose of training elite gymnasts providing complementary support to the AIS.

In 1990 the Annual General Meeting of the Federation saw six States and two Territories vote to introduce a computerised National Registration Scheme which has over 80,000 members registered in 1996.

Historical Dates

1949   Formation of Australian Gymnastic Union (AGU)
1950   First National Championship (Men Only)
1951   Affiliated with the Australian Olympic Federation
1954   Affiliated with the International Gymnastic Federation (FIG)
1955   Western Australian Association affiliated with AGU
1956   First international competition at Olympic Games (Men and Women)
1959   First National Championship for women
1964   First edition of "Australian Gymnast"
1968   Name changes to Australian Amateur Gymnastic Union (AAGU)
1975   First FIG Judges - Jim Barry and Frances Crampton
1975   Introduction of Rhythmic Sportive Gymnastics - Name changed to Australian Gymnastic Federation (AGF)
1978   First full time administrator appointed
1981   AGF becomes incorporated - Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) opens, including gymnastics
1982   First full time National Coaching Director appointed - Introduction of National Board of Management
1983   Rhythmic Gymnastics included at the AIS
1984   Jim Barry elected to the FIG Executive - Lance Otto elected to the FIG General Gymnastics Technical Committee
1986   First full time General Gymnastics Development Director appointed
1987   Australia's first appearance at a World Gymnaestrada
1988   Australia's first international gold medal - Ken Meredith
1990   First FIG Executive Meeting in Australia
1991   First women's team to qualify for Olympic Games - First appointment of Marketing Director
1992   National Computer Registration Scheme introduced
1994   First World Championships held in Australia (Brisbane) - First Aussie Gymfest held (Taree)
1995   Purchased National Office from legacy of 1994 World Championships
1996   Murray Chessell becomes the third AGF President
1997   Introduction of Sports Aerobics as an official discipline of the FIG
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