Gymnastics is the fourth most popular sport for those under 12 in Australia, according to a spokesperson for Gymnastics NSW.
“This coming weekend we will have 50 female gymnasts competing in the Level 9 Senior – Senior international Divisions,” she said.
Elite gymnast Desnee Richter competes in the senior division, following a 16-year dedication to the sport.
Inspired by her brother’s role in gymnastics, from a young age Desnee threw herself into practice, balancing her school and social life around a 26-hour training week.
“I started competitive when I was six years old. Ever since I was eight I’ve been doing those 26 hour weeks,” Desnee said.
“My mum is my biggest fan. I couldn’t have done it without her.”
Monique Richter supported her daughter’s ambition, creating a small business from selling and making gymnastics wear.
“Desnee is actually not a leotard person. She likes crop tops and shorts, so my main business was that,” she said.
“I used to have like 200 different coloured fabrics and she wanted every one.
“When she was eight there were only those Bonds underwear sort of crop tops. And I said, ‘No, you’re not wearing underwear in the gym.’
“Of course, when she had them everyone else had to have them.”
According to Gymnastics coach Bogdan-Nicolae Uruci, reaching the elite stream in gymnastics is no easy task.
“It takes a lot of hard work, determination and a lot of years of training to become elite. It couldn’t be done, for example, in five years of one session a week,” he said.
Desnee hopes to keep competing until the age of 22, which she believes is how long her gymnastics career will last.
“A lot of gymnasts do not retire, rather transition to other gymsports or sports all together, utilising the skills they acquired through our sport,” Gymnastics NSW spokesperson said. -Nikolina Matijevic