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Gymnastics: Emily Little vaults into World Cup contention

The bad news seemed endless for Emily Little in 2016: from Australia’s failure to qualify a women’s gymnastics team for the first Olympics since 1988, to her own disappointment at being pipped for the sole individual place in Rio by Larrissa Miller, and the shock axing of the gymnastics program from the WA Institute of Sport. “I was like ‘what is happening?’ It just felt like it was one thing after the other,” said the London Olympian and 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist. 
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Australian gymnast Emily Little has bounced back from a tough year. Photo: Pat Scala Yet what came next qualifies as a silver lining of sorts. As the reserve for Rio, Little was required to keep training in the US, just in case of a late call-up. Then, having stayed in shape, she decided to compete – successfully so far – in the traditionally fallow period that is the first year in the next Olympic cycle.Having finished first on vault in the opening round of a revamped individual apparatus World Cup series, Little leads the points tally heading into the second, starting on Wednesday at Hisense Arena. In the biggest international gymnastics event in Australia for 12 years, one that features two current or former Olympic champions, Little will also compete on the floor and balance beam.Yet, if the WAIS program has been saved from extinction by Gymnastics Australia and rebranded as one of two National Centres of Excellence, then the twin Rio letdowns came after a determined comeback from a two-year break post-London.”I’d been training for Rio for two years, really putting my heart and soul into it, so I was pretty devastated when I didn’t make it,” Little said. “But also just for the team … everyone that missed out, I just felt horrible for them because it’s hard enough choosing five girls for a team, let alone one. But I think we’ve all bounced back pretty well.

“For me, it was really hard to keep training because I was so close, yet I knew there was a big chance that I wasn’t going as well. So I had to stay read, but it was really hard for me to push through – especially because I was a bit upset about it. But now I think it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise, because I did keep training and I stayed fit and I’m able to do all these comps now. So, in the end, it was good.” The end goal is this year’s world championships in Montreal, with Little now back training …

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