Gymnast bounces back

By MITCHELLDALE

IN one agonising moment, a year's worth of rigorous training almost went down the tube for Coffs Harbour rhythmic gymnast Caitlin Whitehead.

The Empire Gym-sponsored gymnast was putting the finishing touches on her routine in preparation for next week's Australian championships in Sydney when she dislocated her left shoulder.

For the last year the 18-year-old has balanced two part-time jobs and University studies with around 16 hours a week of training for nationals.

While the pain of the injury was hard to cope with, so was the thought that all that hard work would come to nothing.

Fortunately, the 18-year-old has recovered and will take her place in the NSW rhythmic team alongside fellow Coffs Harbour girls Kassie Armytage and Natasha Moule.

The 2005 Nationals will be Caitlin's third and she has tasted success at that level in the past, claiming Level seven bronze in 2002.

While she will compete in the much harder Level nine division this year, Caitlin remains confident of adding another medal to her collection.

"I'm aiming at the top four and making finals of the apparatus," she said.

"Everything was going pretty well, until I dislocated my shoulder at training.

"But hopefully that won't put me back at all.

"I need to get a clearance from the physio, but hopefully that should be okay, if not it will be a year's worth of training for nothing."

While Caitlin has worked hard with Empire Gym owner Shane Allison to strengthen her shoulder, the injury limited her work on the training floor.

"I was only able to do my routine one-handed for a few weeks and the left arm is a major part of my routine so it has been a disadvantage," she said.

"But I will have it nicely taped (at nationals) so it should be right."

Coffs Harbour PCYC gymnastics coach Kerrie Mancini says all three local girls will be strong medal chances.

"The three girls have won national medals in the past, so they should go well," she said.

"Kassie and Natasha will compete in Level 10 and could end up challenging each other for a medal, it all depends on who makes the least mistakes."



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