Local 14-year-old gymnast Riley Fenn recently returned from the Australian National Gymnastics Championships after winning gold on the pommel horse and finishing ninth overall in the Level 7 Open competition.
Riley is the first MAG gymnast to bring home gold for Tasmania and his dream is to one day make the World Championship.
“Being my first Australian championship, this year's nationals was a huge success,” Riley commented.
“Especially winning the first gold medal in men's artistic gymnastics (MAG) for Tasmania ever, feels exhilarating.
“I feel like all the years and effort I've put into the sport has finally paid off and shown as a result.
“The journey isn't over yet and I'm looking to make a big name for myself in the near future.”
It was also the first time that multiple MAG gymnasts have bought home medals from the National Championships with Ethan Loring also earning a spot on the podium.
Riley hopes his journey will take him to the highest level in men’s gymnastics, recognising that it will take an “extreme amount of hard work”.
“In gymnastics, some of my goals are to represent my nation at the world championships and the Olympic games,” stated Riley.
“I would have to raise my hours from 20 hours a week to around the 30 mark when I'm 18 and out of school.”
Despite the challenges, Riley finds joy in training as well as being surrounded by great people, including his friends and the coaches.
“Gymnastics is just as hard on your body as it can be your brain,” explained Riley.
“What I find most challenging about gymnastics is the mental blocks.
“In men's gymnastics when you are at the senior level, the skills you perform begin to get a lot harder compared to a junior, which requires strength, flexibility, natural ability and above all confidence.
“Confidence is key to learning new skills to add into your routines that can result in higher scores in competitions which will lead to success in the future.”
Having begun gymnastics in 2016 at age 9, Riley was already making an impression after a short time, placing equal first as State Champion at Level 3 and winning MAG gymnast of the year in 2017.
After reaching Level 5 in 2019, Riley again placed first at the State Championships.
Riley’s mother Isabel was over the moon with her son’s achievement and has positive hopes for his future.
“I am so proud of all Riley's achievements,” remarked Isabel.
“What I hope for Riley's future is that he continues to do things that make him happy and have no regrets.
“I will continue to support him in any decisions he makes.
“I am forever grateful to the people who recognise Riley's ability and potential and want to support his sporting prowess.
“I'd like to say a special thank you to Lars Becker, Kodee Voss and Oliver Dalco for all your great coaching, guidance and support you've given Riley over the years.”
Gymnastics has become a part of life for the family over the previous years, with Isabel and Riley needing to balance gymnastics with other commitments.
“The gym gives family routine along with my other children's sporting commitments,” said Isabel.
“I have become a highly organised sole parent.
“Riley is very focused and he is very organised in his daily life.
“He coordinates school, part-time work and gymnastics.”
Riley is inspired to continue with the intense commitment due to his love of the sport.
“I love all aspects of the sport and work my butt off every session and have been enjoying it to this very day,” Riley declared.