The popularity of Rhythmic Gymnastics has surged ever since Australia's Kasumi Takahashi won 5 gold medals at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada. The quality of the Australian Rhythmic Gymnastics squad has also
matured, and we are enjoying a fresh group of young talent that has developed in the wake of Kasumi's triumph.
Danielle Leray Bree Robertson Clare Mitchell
Shaneez Johnston Leigh Marning
| DANIELLE LERAY (NSWIS)
Leray had a quiet rise up the Australian ranks, in 1996 she won the Oceania Jnr Championships, represented Australia at the 97 World Championships in Germany and came 3rd AA at the 1998 Nationals. That same year, Leray placed 45th AA at the World Youth Games in Moscow, competed in the Commonwealth Games, reaching the rope and hoop finals, where she narrowly missed out on a medal. Coached by Edith Peluso, Leray has the classic body for this sport and her grace and flexiblity is her signature. Having matured greatly in her performances, Leray won the 1999 National Title and represented Australia at the 1999 Four Continents Championships in Florida. Much can be expected of Danielle in the future, as she aspires to compete in the 1999 World Championships and the 2000 Olympic Games in her home town.
| BREE ROBERTSON (NSWIS)|
Hailing from Gosford NSW, Bree Robertson is coached by Delia Halmu and has enjoyed a tremendous surge up the national ranks, thanks to fantastic improvement and development of her skills. I remember seeing the "tiny" Robertson at the 1997 Nationals and never suspected that she would acheive the sucess that she has in such a small amount of time. 9th AA in 97 then 6th AA in 98, Robertson placed 2nd AA at this years Nationals. She competed in the Australian Group at the 1997 Four Continents Championships, held in Sydney, and placed 8th AA at the 98 Pusan Intl. Having grown 7cm in the last year alone, Robertson recently won a bronze medal on Hoop in a Bulgarian Intl and competed in the 1999 Four Continents Chamionships.
| CLARE MITCHELL (Victorian HPC)|
I have watched this gymnast progress for as long as I have been attending the State Championships. A long time in the shadow of her Victorian teammate Claire Manners, Mitchell won the state title for the first time in 1998 and repeated the victory again in 1999. She started training at the Victorian High Performance Centre in 1993 and in 1995 was named Victorian Gymnast of the Year. Placing 5th AA at the 98 Nationals, Mitchell came 3rd AA in 1999, confirming her status as one of the countries leading rhythmic gymnasts. In 1998 Clare placed 15th AA at the Portugaul Intl and 21st AA at the Danube Cup. This year, she was the top Australian performer in the AA of the Four Continents Championships and is hoping to compete at this years Worlds and the upcoming Olympic Games.
| SHANEEZ JOHNSTON (NSWIS)|
One of the most experienced rhythmic gymnasts in the country, Johnston hails from Lismore, NSW and moved to Sydney to persue her gymnastics career. Shaneez was named Senior Rhythmic Gymnast of the Year in 1997, after coming 2nd AA at Nationals, placing 5th AA and 3rd on Rope at the 97 Four Continents Championships and 56t AA at the 97 Worlds. In 1998 Shaneez missed out on the national title by 0.06 of a point, and later in the year placed 2nd AA at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia and 29th AA at the World Youth Games in Moscow. Known for her flexibility and expressiveness, Johston placed 4th AA at the 1999 Nationals.
| LEIGH MARNING (L'Etoile D'or HPC )|
Now the senior member of the Australian Rhythmic Team, Leigh Marning won the 93 Junior National Title and then won the Senior National Title in 94, 95 and 1998. She lost her National crown to Kasumi Takahashi in 1996 in a series of disrupted routines, including one, where she was hit in the face with one of her clubs and completed the routine with blood streaming down her face. Leigh has represented Australia at the 1994 Commonweath Games, 1995 and 1997 World Championships, 1997 Four Continents Championships. In 1998, she backed up her national title with a 2nd AA at the Commonwealth Games. 5th AA in this years Nationals, Leigh is renowned for her flexibility and the maturity with which she performs. There has been speculation since this years Nationals as to whether Marning is retiring from the sport.
All Photographs (except that of S.Johnston) copyright 1999 R A Matheson of Aeon's Gymnastic World.