Illawarra gymnast Maddison Lacey should be in Switzerland warming up for the most important competition of her gymnastics career – the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships.

Lacey’s long-term dream would have become a reality this week but instead, it has been put on hold until next year.

“I was supposed to be retiring after World’s, however, it has been postponed to next June which has completely changed our training plan. I’m hoping [COVID-19] will be under control by then but who knows what may happen,” she said.

National Cabinet and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has established a framework to reboot community and high-performance sport. Teams eager to return to full training sessions and competitions will be required to wait until Australia moves into Level C of the three-stage plan.

As sportspeople who rely on secure equipment, safety mats, and teamwork, gymnasts have faced challenges with online zoom classes.

“We aren’t able to do most of our sport-specific skills. Most of our skills in Acro are contact therefore we are only able to train our drills and conditioning that are relevant to the whole skill through our zoom sessions. Once we eventually return to normal training, our timing and technique will be completely out,” Lacey said.

Wollongong City Gymnastics coach Orion Campbell is concerned the long break between gym-based training routines may put gymnasts at greater risk of injury when they return to the sport.

“It can be really frustrating not being able to do things that you used to be able to do. But if they try to go back to the same training intensity they were at before COVID-19, they will injure themselves,” she said.

Video supplied by Wollongong City Gymnastics

Gymnastics NSW is yet to confirm whether the next six months’ worth of events and competitions will go ahead and is waiting for the green light from the NSW government.

“They haven’t listed what is happening in July, but even if we are technically allowed to have competitions, it would be pretty unsafe as so many kids haven’t trained properly in so long. They won’t be able to pick up where they left off,” Campbell said.

Once gyms reopen, it will be back to basics for some of the younger athletes to rebuild their foundational strength. The coaches will transform the space into a fun environment, a strategy aimed at maintaining passion and motivation.

“I think the most important thing at first, is just making it fun! Letting them be active, socialising with their friends, and just enjoying the sport rather than trying to rush the process and overload their little bodies. They will find even the easy things quite hard now, so I wouldn’t want to push them out of a sport they love,” Campbell said.

Until then, Campbell is utilising online learning to continue coaching and engaging the children.

“I make a weekly program in writing, then film myself doing it, upload unlisted to YouTube. That way the kids can watch it whenever and I can share my screen while zooming,” she said.