Women's gymnastics team agonisingly miss Rio

Published 18 April 2016 (AEDT)

Larissa Miller of Australia competes on the uneven bars during the second day of the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow, Scotland on October 24, 2015. Gymnasts can secure qualification for the 2016 Rio Games at the championships which will be staged at the Hydro Arena. © Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

GYMNASTICS: Australia has finished fifth in the Rio Test Event falling agonisingly short of qualifying a Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) team for the 2016 Olympic Games.

The team of Georgia-Rose Brown, Emily Little, Larrissa Miller, Rianna Mizzen, Kiara Munteanu and Emma Nedov needed to finish in the top four to secure a team berth at the Rio Olympic Games. They finished just two points behind France with a team total of 218.428.

It was an agonising wait for the Aussies, after they laid down their mark in the opening subdivision of the day before watching on helplessly as they dropped down the table.

Heading into the last group of the day, they were still well in the hunt in third place - having seen off challenges by both Romania and Switzerland.

But Australia were leapfrogged by both Belgium (221.438) and France (220.869) to just miss out.

While it was quickly evident Belgium would post a superior score, France needed at least 54.199 on their last apparatus, the uneven bars, to finish above Australia.

They did it with ease, garnering a total of 56.640.

Australia were made to pay for the absence of Mitchell and Monckton - both specialists on the beam and both recovering from knee injuries.

While they matched the top four on vault, uneven bars and the floor, Australia's score of 52.898 ranked seventh out of the eight competing nations on the beam.

“We congratulate the girls on a strong competition at the Rio Test Event," said Gymnastics Australia CEO Mark Rendell.

"They performed very well under extreme pressure and showed great commitment and determination to overcome what was a difficult lead up to the event.”

Australia's placing at the 2015 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships has however secured a position for an individual WAG competitor at the Games in August. Competition for that spot will be hotly contested at the Olympic selection trials to be held in conjunction with the Australian Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne in late May.

Monckton - who ruptured her ACL on the same weekend the team to the Rio test event was named - won't return in time for next month's national championships, but veteran gymnast Mitchell is expected to be a strong contender for the one individual berth on offer.

Joining France and Belgium in securing a berth in the Olympic team’s event, alongside those nations that placed in the top eight at last year's world championships, are Germany and host nation Brazil.

“It is disappointing that Australia will not contest the WAG team competition at the 2016 Olympic Games, however there are a number of reasons why we fell short at the Rio Test Event including the fact that we could not select our strongest line-up,” Rendell said.

“Unfortunately we lost Mary-Anne Monckton and Emily Whitehead to injury shortly before the event and Australia’s most decorated gymnast, Lauren Mitchell, was unavailable after rupturing her ACL in late 2015.

"For Australia to be competitive on the world stage we need to build the depth of our elite talent pool and our high performance programs need to continually evolve to facilitate that. That is why Gymnastics Australia (GA) is in the midst of a major review that we are confident will deliver sustained long term success."

Australia has not qualified to send a women's artistic gymnastics team to the Olympics for the first time since 1988.

In Men’s Artistic Gymnastics (MAG) at the Rio Test Event, Michael Mercieca scored an All-Around total of 81.406 to place 35th, and as a result was named as the second reserve individual for the 2016 Olympic Games from the international federation.

Australians in action over the final five days of the Rio Test Event includes Emily Little in the Vault final and Larissa Miller in the Uneven bars. London Olympian Blake Gaudry will chase a quota spot for Australia in men’s trampoline and Daniella Prince, who qualified the quota in rhythmic gymnastics, will also compete in the venue in Barra Olympic Park.

Gymnastics Australia and AAP

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