Flipping over medals

A GROUP of Albany gymnasts have brought home the spoils after a successful trip to the PCYC State Gymnastics Championships in Fremantle last month.

The Albany PCYC team’s achievements include four state champions, four runners-up and two competitors who placed third in their division.

PCYC Gymnastics Head Coach Michelle Headley was pleased with the group’s performance at the event and the way they represented the club.

“It was a great competition for everyone. They all get along really well,” she said.

“For the 35 that went to the championships, nearly everyone came home with a medal.”

Headley has been coaching gymnastics on and off for the past 10 years, and only started the position as head coach last year.

“I got up to level eight when I was training and competing. It was really good to get into coaching and teach kids what I learned,” she said.

“We didn’t have enough coaches when I started at PCYC, and to see where the kids are now shows how far we’ve come.”

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Shiny side up

SPEEDWAY Street Stocks driver Peter Herbert didn’t know which way was up when he rolled his car in spectacular fashion at Mount Barker Speedway Club’s opening meet last weekend.

Not only did the seasoned competitor walk away from the crash, but he went on to win the event.

“I can remember feeling like I was floating, and thinking the impact was going to hurt,” he said.

“I honestly can’t remember how many times it rolled.

“One of the front wheels got ripped off, and when it landed it caught fire.

“How the car is still in one piece and still runs is beyond me.”

Herbert’s son made the journey down from Perth to see his dad awarded the Speedway Sedans Western Australia Driver of the Year from Mt Barker Speedway, only to end up in the pits helping to get the car back on the track.

“Not only did they get me back out there, but somehow I won the bloody thing,” Herbert said.

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Finely tuned Gibson stars

ABBI Gibson is built for tennis.

The 12-year-old already stands at a towering 180cm and has been graced with agility and strength.

As one of the top tennis prospects for her age in Australia, she covers the court like a ballerina and swings her racquet like a sledgehammer.

Abbi has just returned from two weeks at the Canberra Tennis World Junior Open and spoke to The Weekender while shrugging off jetlag.

The bubbly Lawley Park Tennis Club product might have been blessed with right genes, but it soon becomes apparent it’s not all about jet-setting and natural talent.

She puts in nearly 20 hours a week on the court and in the gym to keep on top of her game.

“I put in a lot of effort,” Abbi said.

“I learn a lot from my mistakes, it makes me a stronger player.”

Abbi’s dad and coach, Colin Gibson, said he’s proud of how much his daughter had accomplished since picking up a racquet as a five-year-old, but the family has had to make some tough choices with funding support to cover the increasing cost of travel yet to flow through.

The only financial assistance Abbi receives is in the form of racquet sponsorship from Wilson.

“She’s had a pretty intense tennis experience,” Colin said.
“We decided mid-way through last term that she couldn’t keep up her training with her schooling without one suffering.

“She’s a competitive girl, so it made sense to start homeschooling her.

“Her NAPLAN results are all in good order, so she’s doing well to keep up with everything.”

Albany Tennis Academy Director David Kerr said the combination of raw talent and dedication set Abbi apart from the hundreds of players he has had through the academy.

“Abbi is in the top couple of kids for her age playing tennis in Australia,” he said.

“She’s only just turned 12, and for her to play like she does is phenomenal.

“She’s a little machine, tennis is in her genes.

“Not only is she focused, but she trains at the highest level of any junior we have seen come though the academy in the last 16 years.”

Abbi’s efforts are now focused on the December Showdown at Melbourne Park where the nation’s top young players compete for a golden ticket to the Australian Open.

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Pint-sized tramp champ

SEVEN-year-old Ruby Beckett somersaulted her way to success at the WA Trampoline and Tumbling Qualifying Competition in Perth recently.

After her outstanding performance, the pint-sized gymnast will be jetting off to Melbourne next year to compete in the 2018 Australian Gymnastics Championships.

Ruby joined Albany’s Flip Zone trampolining centre during school holidays last year and immediately excelled.

“She said she wanted to do gymnastics over the holi- days,” Ruby’s mother, Melita Kingsford, said.

“I was driving through Albany doing some odds and ends when I spotted Flip Zone.

“She’s loved it ever since. Every night she flips around the living room, does handstands and push-ups.

“I’m extremely proud of her.”

Ruby travels from Denmark every week for practice sessions lasting anywhere from two to four hours.

Ruby’s coach Kay Panton said she was amazed that Ruby qualified for the national championships in the first round of qualifiers.

“She’s got three more qualifiers in March next year that she still has to compete in,” she said.

“But I’m hoping she’ll go on to be a national cham- pion.

“She’s quite easily the most naturally talented child to walk through my doors. She’s very special.”

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Cricket yarn rolls out

ALBANY author Ian Brayshaw has finished putting pen to paper and is about to launch his latest book Lillee and Thommo: The Deadly Pair’s Reign of Terror.

Mr Brayshaw said that writing a book about cricket legends Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson was a great experience.

“Essentially the book is about the careers of two of the best cricketers in Australian history,” he said.

“They were a formidable pair in test cricket.

“Thommo is considered to be the fastest bowler of all time, and Lillee the best fast bowler.

“I played a lot of games against Jeff and watched him play when I was a radio presenter.

“Writing this book was more than just the impressions of others, but also my memories of the sport as well.”

Lillee and Thommo are best known for their performance in the 1974 Ashes series, and for terrifying the English team.

“Back when I played, no one wore helmets or protective gear like today,” Mr Brayshaw said.

“We wore a cap and this flimsy protective gear that didn’t really do anything to soften the blow.

“When Thommo would bowl it was like a missile coming straight for you.

“It was a formidable job to try and move out of the way quick enough so you wouldn’t get killed.”

Mr Brayshaw will be bringing former WA state cricketer Ross Edwards to the book launch at Centennial Park next Tuesday night.

“Both of us will be talking about the book and telling a few stories about Lillee and Thommo,” he said.

“They’re both such charismatic players to talk about, so the night will be a good one for cricket fans.

“We’ll also have some limited copies of ‘Lillee and Thommo’ for sale signed by Dennis.”

Tickets are available for the October 10 event at Centennial Stadium online or instore at Paperbark Merchants for $5.

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Tigers for life

THE emotion of Richmond’s drought-breaking AFL premiership win last Saturday was too much to hold back for rusted-on Tigers supporters Professor of Aboriginal Studies Len Collard and his wife Lisa.

The pair were in Albany for the weekend and were overwhelmed as they celebrated the Tigers’ 48-point win over the Adelaide Crows at Six Degrees bar.

While the Tigers’ last premiership in 1980 was in the back of most fans’ minds throughout the day, it was the recollection of Richmond’s defeat at the hands of Carlton in 1982 that spilled over into tears for the Collards.

Prof Collard’s brother-in-law, the late Maurice Rioli, won the Norm Smith medal in that match and was the first player in VFL history to be awarded the best-on-ground in a losing side.

Prof Collard recalled Rioli’s response to the agony of losing the grand final, but winning the heralded Norm Smith.

“We were all there at his house, and when Maurice got home after that battle against Carlton, he took the medal off his neck and threw it in the fire,” an emotional Prof Collard recalled.

“He was so pissed off that he was the best player on the ground, but lost the grand final. That medal wasn’t enough. It just wasn’t enough.”

Prof Collard said the Tigers victory on Saturday was “a family thing”, with the Rioli name continuing its contribution, with great-nephew Daniel Rioli lining up for Richmond.

“It is so important to us,” he said.

“Maurice set the precedent for Tiwi Islanders, and to have young Dan and Cyril following in the footsteps of their uncle and continue the Riolis’ contribution to Australian Rules Football is very special.”

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Rising star

GREAT Southern Grammar year 11 student Zainel Bin-Busu is raising funds to participate with his school at a cricket tournament in Dubai next April.

Zainel is a member of a well-known Aboriginal family in Kununurra and has been at the school for four years on a scholarship.

He is one of 13 boys selected for the Great Southern Grammar team, which will travel to the United Arab Emirates to compete with teams from Dubai’s local academies and schools.

“The cost is $4000, but I’m going to fundraise $2000 and my parents are going to pay the other $2000,” he said.

“I’ve never been overseas before, so it is something I’m really looking forward to, and also a new sport.

“I haven’t really taken much part in cricket other than doing it here at school. That’s really exciting for me.”

During his time at Grammar, Zainel said he had discovered an unexpected strength as a leg spin bowler.

“I am now a Year 11 student hoping for a career in sport,” he said.

“I am strongly involved and very committed to the sporting life in the community, and at school I enjoy playing a range of sports.

“I also study sport related subjects such as Physical Education Studies, Outdoor Education and Sport Coaching, which is a Cert II course I’m currently studying at TAFE one day a week.”

He has represented his house in swimming, cross country and athletics and his school in the local basketball competition and Country Week football.

He said he had already raised more than $1500 of the target $2000, with many donations coming from well-wishers in the Kimberley.

“It would be good if people can make any donation. I’ll be truly grateful for that,” he said.

Zainel is fundraising via the internet app Gofundme.

People wishing to donate may find his campaign at gofundme.com/zainels-school-cricket-tour

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Fighting with team spirit

ENDLESS team spirit was the driving force behind Albany Fight Fit’s bags of medals last weekend, when the young martial arts pupils challenged Perth students in an inter-club tournament.

Albany Fight Fit owner and instructor Daniel McGrath led a team of 20 children for a two-day martial arts competition at the Innovative Martial Arts studio in Canning Vale.

Students participated in pattern work and sparring, and won themselves a multitude of individual and team medals and certificates.

“They all had such a great attitude,” Mr McGrath said.

“I was really impressed by all the kids because they were cheering for everyone the whole time and had a really great team spirit.

“One young competitor from the opposite team was losing her fight, but my kids kept cheering her on and it was just really great.”

The youngest Albany Fight Fit competitor was Jade Wilkinson, at just four years old.

“Jade was a bit nervous to begin with and needed some of my help, but then her confidence went through the roof and she was fantastic,” Mr McGrath said.

The Albany Fight Fit team included students ranging from four to 16 years old, and between them were awarded 18 gold medals.

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Thrills and hills for urban daredevils

MOUNTAIN bike thrill seekers from across the state will defy gravity and test the limits of their bikes next weekend at the exciting Southern MTB Albany extravaganza.

The September 22-24 event will include a cross country race, a jump competition, a child-friendly urban ride and the epic urban downhill.

President of the Albany Mountain Bike Club Phil Stan-Bishop said there were already more than 100 people registered for the cross-country race.

“We have plenty of Albany locals registered, as well as people from as far as Perth and Kalgoorlie showing interest in the event,” he said.

“There’s even a team from the HMAS Anzac coming to take part.”

This year’s cross-country event offers two options to participants – 37km or 50km.

“It’s great because it opens up the competition to a larger spectrum of people, so we can encompass more participants into the race,” Mr Stan- Bishop said.

This year’s tracks, despite being under tight wraps, sound like a thrill seeker’s paradise.

“There will be a gravity focus and more runs, but that’s all I can really say,” Mr Stan-Bishop said.

“One of the focuses of the tracks this year is also being walkable, so spectators can easily watch the action.”

Participants will attempt challenging climbs and steep descents, as well as a few new surprises along the way.

“The competition in the Albany Town Square will feature a tiered jump, so that will be something a bit different,” Mr Stan-Bishop said.

However, the efficient running of the Southern MTB will only be possible with volunteers, which Mr Stan-Bishop said there was a lack of.

“We really need more local volunteers to help with marshalling and setting up the areas, otherwise the event won’t run smoothly,” he said.

“There is a 30 per cent discount offered to volunteers for their registration into one of the events.

“We really encourage people to get online and register as a volunteer.”

To help out at the 2017 Southern MTB, visit southernmtb.com.au/volunteer and follow the prompts.

The full timetable can be found online at southern-mtb.com.au.

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Peter’s the skipper

ALBANY table tennis stalwart Peter Muller has been selected as the captain of the state Over 75’s mens team that will compete at the Australian Open Veterans Table Tennis Championships in October.

Mr Muller will be whipping his team into shape and making sure they come home with some medals.

“I was selected because I’m the best able to organise the team, I guess,” he said.

“I’ve got to make sure everyone gets to their events on time.

“It’s nice to have been given the responsibility to be the captain.”

Competing in the championships is nothing new for Muller, with this event being the first he’s competed in for two years.

“After my wife got sick, I needed to care for her,” he said.

“It’s been two years, but it’s good to get back into the game.”

Mr Muller has been playing table tennis since he was 18 years old and has coached teams of all ages from Perth and Albany.

“I coached juniors in Perth and even some seniors on a couple of occasions,” he said.

“After moving to Albany though, I’ve spent most of my time trying to resurrect the Albany club.”

Mr Muller will also be competing in the Smarter than Smoking 2017 Western Australian Open Table Tennis Championships in Perth that commences this weekend.

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