Rianna Mizzen may very well be the leader of the Australian team throughout the forthcoming quad. This 17 year old rose to prominence in 2016, her second year as a senior international elite, representing Australia at multiple events around the world including the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Washington, USA, the Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Anadia World Cup in Anadia, Portugal where Rianna took 1st on UB. In addition to her international prominence, Rianna also took 1st place AA at the 2016 Australian National Championships, placing herself at the forefront of the Australian gymnastics programme.

Whilst not competing at the 2016 Olympic Games as Australia just missed out on qualifying a full team to the Games and was only allowed one representative, that being Larrissa Miller, Rianna is firmly focused on Tokyo 2020. Rianna is best on the UB, with a nice, easy swing to her bars, she has great form on the event and finishes her pirouettes firmly on top of the bar. She can compete calmly under pressure and should really be a big part of Australian gymnastics in the coming years.

Here, Rianna talks her 2016 season, how she got involved in gymnastics, how the Australian gymnastics system works and how she regrouped after the 2016 Olympic Test Event.

1) Firstly, congratulations on a great 2016 season, how did it feel to become the 2016 Australian National AA Champion?

Aw thank you, it felt amazing becoming the 2016 Senior National Champion. Becoming the Champion had meant that my hard work while training had paid off.

2) In addition, how did it feel to represent Australia at both the Pacific Rim Championships and the Rio Test Event? Did those competitions help you gain confidence on the competition floor?

Honestly competing for Australia at the Pacific Rim Championships and Rio Test Event was a great experience for me. It made me gain a lot more confidence out there on the competition floor.

3) You obviously got a lot of big competition experience in 2016, what were your goals coming into the Olympic year and what was the highlight for you?

My main goal coming into the 2016 Olympic year was just to go out there and show everyone who I am and also just to do my very best and achieve my goal which was becoming the National Champion. The highlights of this years competitions were our team coming 3rd at the Pacific Rim Championships and even getting to represent Australia at the Rio Test Event.

4) You and your Australian teammates just missed out on qualifying a full team to the Olympics at the Test Event, how did you as a team deal with that and how did it effect your training in the following months? 

It didn’t effect my training, but as a team we were very disappointed at the time, but after this happened I went home and refocused on my next big goal which was Nationals. I trained as hard as I could and I took in every piece of advice my coach gave me to achieve my goal. This situation made me a stronger person than I was. As soon as I got home I refocused on what I had to do to win the Olympic Trials.

5) How did you first get involved in gymnastics?

When I was little I used to just love doing front flips and the splits which prompted my parents to put me into gymnastics.

6) Can you tell me a little about the early days of gymnastics for you, what was your path to the elite level and what came easily for you at first?

I started gymnastics at Robertson with coach Lyn Hon. I trained with Lyn through my early levels, after 3 years of being coached by her I moved to the High Performance Centre in 2008. I trained and competed in levels IDP 3,5,6,8 with coach Vladimir Zacharov. Then I was coached by Vlad Joura through level 10 and junior international. Since then I have been coached by my current coach Peter Abbott and have successfully competed junior international and senior international.

7) How has your training been going, can we expect any upgrades for 2017?

My training has been going really well, I will be trying to put new upgrades in my routines for 2017.

8) What are your goals for the 2017 season and beyond?

My goals for 2017 are to compete in Melbourne for the World Cup in February, World Cup in London, National Championships and also World Championships at the end of the year. My big goal is to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

9) Did watching the Olympic Games help inspire and motivate you, especially knowing that you were so close to being there?

Getting to watch the Olympic Games on TV inspired and motivated me so much more.

10) A lot of gymnasts from outside the U.S. are now competing in college gymnastics in the U.S, is this something you would consider or have considered?

Not at this stage in my career I am happy to stay in Australia and achieve my goals for my home country.

11) You grew up at a very exciting time for Australian gymnastics with Lauren Mitchell becoming FX World Champion in 2010, how did that effect you and the expectations of you as a young up and coming Australian gymnast?

Being able to grow up and watch Lauren Mitchell become the 2010 World Champion was honestly the best thing because I made me want it more so I could also be like her when I was older.

12) Can you tell me a little about your typical training schedule and how you balance your training with school?

My typical training schedule is training 31 ½ hours a week which means I train three mornings and every afternoon for six days a week. I am doing my senior year of schooling over 2 years which helps me focus more on training and less stress on catching up on school work.

13) Are you the only gymnast or is there gymnastics blood in your family?

I am the only gymnast in my family

14) Can you tell me a little about how the Australian system works with regards to training together as the National team whilst also training at your own personal gyms?

The Australian system works like this, we have 4 high performance gyms around the country and also we have a Gymnastics centre in Canberra which is where we all get together and train with the National coach, Peggy Liddick.

15) And lastly, what made you fall in love with the sport of gymnastics, and kept you going to this level?

I fell in love with this sport because I just love working hard, achieving my goals and also getting to know all the best gymnast around the world. Another thing is traveling with your team mates is honestly the best thing. Learning big skills is another thing that made me fall in love and keep going.

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