In a sport dominated by teenagers, Beijing Olympian and Oregon State alumna Olivia Vivian hopes to take one of just four places to this year’s World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. With her new and difficult bar routine she could very well be heading in the right direction.
In the year following an Olympics, the gymnastics world looks to see the next generation of gymnasts ready to take on the world: the first year seniors. The girls who were not quite age eligible for the Olympics and haven’t had their real chance to shine. Names like Katelyn Ohashi and Simone Biles spring to mind. Usually, not much attention is given to the older girls, but Olivia Vivian could change that.
After being the oldest member of the 2008 Australian Olympics gymnastics team, Vivian left for Oregon State University on a full ride scholarship she didn’t feel she could turn down. Although her freshman year was consumed with injuries and she was sick for most of it, effectively leaving her not much competition time, she finished her career with All American and Pac-10/12 First Team honours as well as Regional and Pac-10 uneven bar titles.
In 2012 after completing her collegiate career, Vivian surprised gymnastics fans by returning to the National Championships and Olympic Trials. It was here that her emersion in the American collegiate system became evident. While the other, younger gymnasts appeared much more serious, even at times tense and solemn, Olivia could be seen singing, dancing and cheering for any and every gymnast she happened to be watching. But when she got her chance she showed just what four years of regular competition can do for one’s confidence and ability, and she walked away with the uneven bar title.
It may have been that choosing to compete on one apparatus only in an Olympic year may have hurt her chances of being named to a 5-person team; it may not be the case this year. With the year following an Olympics being an “individual worlds” and with some many of our top gymnasts having either retired or seemingly yet to return to competition, there may be a space for Vivian. Should she get the opportunity, Vivian will be looking for a top 8 finish on the uneven bars, a feat she so closely missed out on at her last two world championship visits in 2005 and 2006. Vivian recently told the West Australian newspaper that she wanted no regrets and her title win in 2012 gave her the confidence that she could achieve high results on the international stage.
It has however been a tough year for Olivia, who lost her father to melanoma in February. In true Australian fighting spirit, she has returned from this to keep pushing for her dreams.
Although her new, improved and apparently very difficult bar routine is so far shrouded in secrecy, she has told the West Australian that she is working on a new skill, which she hopes to perform and have named after her at this year’s Worlds.
Whether she decides to continue to compete after this year or even keep going until the next Olympics, Olivia Vivian is certainly one to watch at this year’s nationals in July and hopefully at Worlds in September.
The women’s competition at Australian National Championships begin on July 12th and The Couch Gymnast and Tracy B will be covering the meet for you!
Article: Tracy B
Editor: Diana Brett
Photo: Nadia Boyce
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