Waverley’s Emily Whitehead makes outstanding Olympic Games debut

Monash gymnast Emily Whitehead lived her lifelong dream when she competed in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Sunday.

Emily trains at the Waverley Gymnastics Centre, based at the award-winning Oakleigh Recreation Centre.

After starting with 12.066 on the balance beam, Emily scored 12.566 on the floor exercise, 14.000 on the vault and 13.066 on the uneven bars. Her final total of 52.298 saw her finish 44th in the all-around competition.

Waverley Gymnastics Centre head coach John Hart, also in Tokyo as the Australian coach, was thrilled with Emily’s performance.

“After everything 2020 threw at us, it was incredible,” Hart said from Tokyo this morning. “Her vault was one of her best ever.

“It’s a very happy camp at Team Australia, and Waverley Gymnastics of course.

“She actually did a personal best and went a very clean four-from-four (routines). Normally countries can only have three in the all-around round but under the new rules most have four and three even had six. So, the results aren’t reflective of previous Olympics and World Championships.”

The Oakleigh Recreation Centre recently won the Community Facility of the Year award at the Parks and Leisure Australia 2021 Awards of Excellence (VIC/TAS).

The $25.35M ORC Redevelopment, undertaken in 2019-2020, transformed the existing centre into a state-of-the art sports hub. It was recognised for demonstrating innovative design, development and operation.

The ORC redevelopment was funded by Monash Council, State and Federal Governments, and the Waverley Gymnastics Centre. The community was also widely consulted.

The project significantly expanded the centre’s capabilities to host gymnastics, basketball, netball, volleyball and badminton. The centre has five new indoor basketball courts, including a show court with a 3m x 5m video screen and retractable seating for 550 spectators, an upgraded gym and group fitness rooms.

The former stadium section of the old centre is now a regional level home for the Waverley Gymnastics Centre.

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