Meet the Worlds 2013 Selection: Australia (MAG)

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We continue our “Meet the Worlds 2013 Selection” series with the men’s delegates from Australia.

Luke Wiwatowski

26 year old Luke Wiwatowski, born and bred in Sydney Australia,  began gymnastics at the age of 5. He has been a long standing member of the Australian National Team, earning his place in 2003. To date  Luke has four World Championships, a Commonwealth Games and a Summer University Games to his name. It should have been at least 5 World Championships but he suffered a knee injury in 2009 which forced him to withdraw from the World Championships in London. As a Senior, he has taken no less than 9th place in the All Around competition across 9 Australian National Championships (three third place, one 2nd place, one 5th place, one 7th place and two 9th place from 2005-2012). High Bar is his strong suit, taking the National title in 2007 and 2010 as well as bronze in 2006 and 2012. That’s not to mention various 2nd and 3rd place National rankings on Parallel Bars, Vault, Pommel Horse and Floor. 2010 was a big year for Luke as he represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Dehli. Here he helped Australia achieve the team gold as well as placing 7th in the event finals on Floor and High Bar.

Where have we most recently seen Luke? He competed at the Doha World Cup earlier this year placing 8th on Floor and 8th on Parallel Bars. At this years Australian National Championships he took silver in the AA and Parallel Bars as well as gold on Floor and High Bar. Here is his floor from day 3 of the Championships:

Prashanth Sellathurai

At aged  26 Prashanth is  probably the most well known of the Australian Senior MAG. The Pommel Horse specialist has competed in 6 World Championships and 2 Commonwealth Games as well as numerous World Cup competitions and has held the Australian National Pommel Horse title for 8 out of 10 years (2 years without due to injury). He began gymnastics in 1991 and took his place on the National team in 2005. This was also the year that he competed at his first World Championships on home soil in Melbourne. Here, he placed 7th in the Pommel Horse final  beginning to show his strength to the world. At the 2006 World Championships he raised the bar, taking silver on Pommel Horse but was unfortunate note to make event finals at the 2007 Worlds. Prashanth was a member of the 2006 Australian Commonwealths Team who won silver in the team competition, he also took silver on Pommel Horse.  Australia were only represented at the Beijing 2008 Olympics by Sam Simpson in the All Around competition, should Prashanth have been competing it would have been likely to make the Pommel final. He continued his success in 2009 he qualified to the Worlds Pommel final finishing in second place behind Krisztian Berki . 2010 was a big year for the gymnast, competing at the Commonwealth Games in Dehli, he was a member of the team who won a historic gold medal. He also won gold on Pommel, took bronze on Parallel Bars and qualified for the Rings final finishing in 6th place.  He took a bronze medal at the 2010 World Championships on Pommel behind behind Berki and Louis Smith.

Swing forward to 2011 – the crucial World Championships in Tokyo. It was looking good for the event finals, with Prashanth once placing behind Berki and Smith in qualification. An unfortunate slip up in the event finals was costly and meant he had to settle for 6th place

The Australian team did not qualify directly into the London 2012 Olympic Games, nor did they qualify to the Test Event to try once again to qualify for the Games. Instead Joshua Jefferis and Tom Pichler got the chance to compete for an Individual place at the Games.

So, where has Prashanth been since then? Most recently he competed internationally at the 2013 Doha World Cup, placing 7th in the Pommel Horse event finals. Should he be back on track, we could expect to see him in the Pommel Horse EF’s.

Naoya Tsukahara

Where to start? Everyone in gymnastics from coaches, gymnasts to hardcore fans know the name “Tsukahara”. The Tsukahara is a vault named after the first performer, Mitsuo Tsukahara from Japan. The vault consists of a half turn off the springboard onto the vault table, then a push backwards into a backwards somersault. Tsukahara is a five time Olympic gold medallist, he retired from competition in 1978.

His son Naoya Tsukahara, aged 36, has been named to the Australian Worlds 2013 selection, his first international assignment since becoming a citizen. Naoya gained Australian citizenship in  and was granted permission by the FIG to compete for Australia earlier this year. Since moving to Australia in 2008 / 2009 he has been guesting at many Australian competitions.

Naoya has competed in three Olympic Games, 1996, 2000 and 2004. 1996 saw him finish 12th in the AA. 2000 was an unlucky Olympic Games with the Japanese team edged out of medal contention by the Russian’s who took bronze. He also qualified 6th and 10th into the horizontal bar and AA final respectively, finishing 18th in the AA and last in the High Bar final. His streak of bad luck continued towards the 2004 Olympic Games where he was more so seen as an anchor for the Japanese team due to the up and coming new talented gymnasts. The Japanese took team gold with Naoya placing 48th in AA qualification, making him ineligible to qualify to the finals. Three Japanese ranked in the top 10 on floor in qualification, Daisuke Nakano and Tsukahara both scored 9.725 with Nakano advancing through to the event finals due to tie breaking rules. 

Tsukahara also holds World Championships titles:

  • ’97 – bronze medal in AA and P Bars
  • ’99 – silver medal in AA and P Bars
  • ’06 – bronze team medal

At this years Australian National Championships he won the All Around competition with a combined 2 day total of 168.550 as well as gold on Rings and P Bars. Here he is competing on P Bars:

It will be incredibly interesting to see Tsukahara’s form in Antwerp. At 36 years old he may be the oldest gymnast competing in MAG.

Image via Getty Images.

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