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Lofty goal for Olympic gymnasts despite loss of star

The Australian women's artistic gymnastic team have set an ambitious goal of making the final at the Paris Olympics despite the loss of injured superstar Georgia Godwin.

Australia will send a record 13 gymnasts to France next month, including 11 women, with Emily Whitehead and Lidiia Iakovleva both backing up from Tokyo.

Aged 17, Brock Batty will become the youngest male from any nation to ever contest Olympic trampoline, while Jesse Moore will fly the flag in the men's artistic division.

Australia's Olympic gymnastics team
Australia will send its largest ever Olympic gymnastics team to Paris, with 13 set to compete. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Seven-time national champion Godwin, who has an original move on the uneven bars named after her, was also on track for her second Olympics until she ruptured her Achilles in May.

Speaking at the team announcement on Tuesday at the MCG, Whitehead told AAP that everyone was shattered for Godwin.

"We were all devastated for George and we just had our first training camp post nationals and it put a bit of a downer on it but we are a team and that's how we're going to continue to go forward," said the 23-year-old Victorian.

"It is a loss, for sure, but we're a strong team so we've had to change our thinking a little bit.

"But we achieved the team spot so we're going to be a team and put our best foot forward."

Emily Whitehead
Dual Olympian Emily Whitehead will lead the charge in the absence of injured star Georgia Godwin. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Whitehead will be joined in the five-strong outfit by three of her teammates from last year's world championships - Kate McDonald, Ruby Pass and Breanna Scott - along with 28-year-old Emma Nedov, who returned to the sport in late 2023 after a three-year retirement.

Australia hadn't qualified a women's team since London 2012, where they missed the top eight final, with the best Olympic result a sixth placing in 2008 in Beijing.

After finishing ninth in the world championships to book their spot at the Games, Whitehead felt the team was capable of making the medal round in Paris.

"Our last rotation in our qualifications for the Olympics was a little bit rough, so we know that we can do better," Whitehead said.

"We're really hoping to make a team finals and in order to do that, we have to come top eight so that's the real goal."

She said that nerves hit the team on the vault, usually her highest-scoring apparatus.

"Unfortunately, it was actually our strongest going into the event and I think that the nerves got to us a little bit.

"Unfortunately, I made a mistake, which kind of flowed through the rest of the team but we got the job done, which was important and we definitely learned a lot from that experience."

Iakovleva was Australia's sole representative in the individual rhythmic gymnastics competition in Tokyo but this time around she will be joined by Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva.

Iakovleva, 20, is set to make history as the first Australian to compete both individually and as part of Australia's second-ever rhythmic group, alongside debutantes Saskia Broedelet, Phoebe Learmont, Emmanouela Frroku and Jessica Weintraub.

"I am so excited to not only compete at my second Olympic Games but to also share this moment with my teammates as it's a goal we worked very hard towards," she said

Australian team: Rhythmic: Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva, Lidiia Iakovleva, Saskia Broedelet, Phoebe Learmont, Emmanouela Frroku, Jessica Weintraub. Artistic:  Emily Whitehead, Kate McDonald, Ruby Pass, Breanna Scott, Emma Nedov, Jesse Moore. Trampoline: Brock Batty.