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Interview: Shona Morgan (Australia)
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Morgan on floor at the 2008 Australian Nationals

Recently named to the 2008 Australian Olympic team, Shona Morgan is ready to bring her best to the Olympic Games next month in Beijing.

The 17-year-old Morgan has emerged as one of the top Aussie gymnasts of this Olympic year. Her flowing, clean gymnastics style served her well throughout the Australian Olympic team selection process.

In May, Morgan placed second to veteran Dasha Joura at the Australian Championships, which marked Morgan’s improvement of four positions from her finish at the 2007 championships. In late June she was confirmed as a member of the six-member Australian Olympic team, which also includes Joura, Georgia Bonora, Ashleigh Brennan, Lauren Mitchell and Olivia Vivian.

Born Sept. 1, 1990, in Mount Waverley, Vic., Morgan resides in Melbourne and trains at Waverley Gymnastics Centre. Her coaches are John Hart, Shaoyi Jiang and Sasha Vildanov.

Morgan placed 47th all-around in preliminaries at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, where Australia finished 11th the team preliminaries and thereby earned a full team berth to the Beijing Games. The top 12 teams from the 2007 Worlds will compete in Beijing, and Morgan agrees with national coach Peggy Liddick's assessment that the Aussies have the potential to win a team medal.

In this IG Online interview, the optimistic but realistic Morgan comments on her upcoming Olympic debut and the Australian team she will help lead in Beijing.

IG: You earned an automatic berth at the first trials, but how does it feel now that the final trials are over?

SM: Actually, it was not an automatic berth, as the results were tabulated over the four trials (two days of all-around at the Australian Championships, training camp and final trial), not just the two from Nationals. It is obviously a relief to know that I am actually on the team now. Now we can just buckle down and get on with our preparation.

IG: Going back to the Australian Championships, how surprised were you to place second to Dasha?

SM: It was great, but that was not what I was thinking about. I was just wanting to go out on the podium and show what I had.

IG: How did you keep your motivation to prove yourself through the training camp and final trials?

Morgan on bars at the 2008 Australian Nationals

SM: I knew that I had fairly positive chance, and if I just kept consistent, then I knew that I would be able to get through to the team.

IG: You've upgraded your vault to a double-twisting Yurchenko. What other upgrades do you have planned for Beijing?

SM: Yes, I am really enjoying performing my double. Not too many other upgrades; I have just been working on details.

IG: You "crept" onto the Worlds team last year, and seemed to come into your own as a team leader in 2008. What gave you the surge?

SM: We have really good team camaraderie, and knowing that you have those girls behind you all the way is really a confidence booster. They really believe in me.

IG: Going back to the beginning of your career, how old were you when you began gymnastics, and why did you choose it over other sports?

SM: I was 7 and just had a lot of energy. My school friend was doing gymnastics at the time and I just went along. I really liked it and kept going. I had fun and wasn't any good at ball sports. When I started competing, I had some good results and thought to myself, "Hey, I am pretty good at this." So, I just kept going, and then started getting invited to national camps.

IG: What are your impressions of the other five girls on the Olympic team, as gymnasts and characters?

SM: They are all great gymnasts and I like being with all of them. Dasha is a strong leader, but not good at driving. She almost didn't pass! Lauren is a very sweet girl and friendly. Olivia makes us all laugh; she is a very funny person. Georgia, I have basically grown up with her and she is more like a sister to me. Ashleigh is also very sweet and caring and considerate. But I love them all!

IG: This will be the first Olympic Games for everyone on the team. How are you preparing yourselves, and how are Peggy and your personal coaches preparing you for the Olympic experience?

SM: We have reviewed many videos of Olympic moments and we actually study the competitions, so we can know how to handle certain situations and how others have handled them. We do a lot of mock competitions. We have tours that go through the gym 20 times a day, so we are used to an audience all the time.

IG: When the Olympic team was announced, Peggy mentioned that your team has the potential to win the bronze medal in Beijing. Having placed 11th in Stuttgart, what will your team need to rise to the top three in Beijing?

SM: We know that it is a long shot — Peggy has made that clear — but the message was that anything can happen. So if we can prepare ourselves to hit all our routines and the situation is just right, who knows? But we might as well train as if we are going for it.

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