27 November 2005
With the 2005 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships about to draw to a close today – highlighted by a resurgent Australian team producing their best ever result at a Worlds, and Melbourne teenager Monette Russo’s medal-winning performance - top gymnasts from Commonwealth nations now gear up for their return to Melbourne at the 2006 Games in March.
Games CEO John Harnden said athletes from across the Commonwealth had performed exceptionally at these World Championships, highlighting the strength of competition Melbourne 2006 ticket holders can expect next year.
“Eight Commonwealth nations were represented at the Championships, and with just 108 days until the Opening Ceremony, the results achieved at this event really give fans a taste of what is to come next March,” Mr Harnden said.
“These championships have seen an unprecedented number of athletes from the Commonwealth advancing to finals in their warm up for the Games.”
Of the eight Commonwealth countries participating, athletes from Malaysia, Australia, Canada and Great Britain (England) made finals, kick starting an intense battle which will continue in Melbourne next year.
The highlight for Australia was Russo’s history-making performance on Friday night, when the Heathmont teenager became the first Australian female gymnast to win an individual World Championships medal, claiming bronze in the Women's All Around final.
She finished seventh on the uneven bars yesterday, and is in line for another Championship medal today when she competes in the beam final – her pet event.
Other highlights of the Championships for Commonwealth countries included:
• England’s Beth Tweddle won bronze in the Bars final on Saturday night. Her performance sets up a fantastic showdown with Russo in March, when the pair are likely to go head-to-head in the All-Round Final.
• Australians Damien Istria - who goes for gold today in the High Bar final – and team mate Prashanth Sellathurai, who yesterday placed seventh in the Pommel Horse Final.
• Josh Jefferis finished 19th in the Men's All Around Final equalling the best ever Australian performance in a Men's All Around Final. Jefferis was the highest ranked All Around Commonwealth athlete.
• Canadian gymnast Brandon O'Neill won a silver medal in the floor Exercise Final while Malaysia’s Shu Wai Ng contests the Parallel Bars final today.
Tickets for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games can be purchased on-line at www.melbourne2006.com.au, over the phone on 1300 00 2006, or at over 100 Ticketmaster outlets across Australia.
The Games will be a unique opportunity to witness 4500 elite athletes from 71 nations taking part in the XVIII Commonwealth Games to be held from 15-26 March 2006. For further information on the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, go to www.melbourne2006.com.au.
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