Australia’s finest junior rhythmic gymnast is fighting a lack of understanding, funding and her own body to make it to the top. But as Saskia Broedelet explains, the struggle is the most exciting part.
As a result, despite her prodigious success and back-breaking effort, Saskia’s family funds each competition she enters and fundraised tirelessly to send her to the Junior Championships in Moscow.
In the gymnastics-obsessed Russian capital, she finally gained a glimpse into what a gymnast’s lifestyle could look like, somewhere that fully appreciated the endurance behind the art.
“The whole place was just built for gymnasts,” she gushes.
“There were pictures of gymnasts, a hotel for gymnasts, all these things. We have nothing over here, we don't even have our own gym hall, we have to rent it.
“It's a new sport in Australia. It came from Russia and they focus on it because they always win at the Olympics and everyone knows about it over there. But people here don’t understand that it takes so much time in the gym.
“Behind all the leotards and the gracefulness is lot of hard work.
“We don't get any funding, even at a senior level, because…I don't know,” she pauses…“it's not very understood in Australia.”
Despite registering scores in her junior competitions that rank her in the upper echelons of Australian seniors, Saskia will have to bide her time to climb to the top of Australia’s gymnastics tree.
“Next year there won’t be a lot of big opportunities,” she says. “I’ll be a senior and there are a lot of people who have already been senior rhythmic gymnasts for a long time.
“But I want to be ready by the Commonwealth Games, and then the Paris Olympics.
Time is on her side. The one event she has her eyes firmly set on is five years away and by the time she’s 20-years-old, she’ll already have a lifetime of experience to draw on.
“I’m confident because nerves don’t get the better of me at big competitions,” she beams.
“I’m always really nervous. But I’m even more excited.”