ON TOP: Bundaberg PCYC gymnast Dannalee Williams recently completed level 10, the highest level any gymnast can achieve in competition.
ON TOP: Bundaberg PCYC gymnast Dannalee Williams recently completed level 10, the highest level any gymnast can achieve in competition. Mike Knott BUN081118GYM5

Persistence pays off for young gymnast

GYMNASTICS: Bundaberg PCYC gymnast Dannalee Williams thought the feeling of last Saturday would never happen to her.

Even on the day she had doubts.

The 18-year-old competed in a competition on the Sunshine Coast aiming to progress to the highest level a gymnast can achieve, level 10.

It was her first attempt at getting to the level and everything was going well until she made a mistake on the beam during the competition.

She fell off.

"We were a bit anxious because she fell off her beam,” her coach Hayley Ifield said.

"When she fell off the beam we didn't know if she would manage it (a pass).”

But just like the rest of her career so far in the sport, Williams did not make another mistake and completed her goal with strong performances on the bar, vault and floor.

"I was ecstatic about doing that,” Williams told the NewsMail.

"I was in tears. I just screamed 'I just did it, I actually did it.' I didn't expect it at all.”

Williams knew one mistake would end her chances but it didnot worry her.

She used the same motto that had gother this far in the sport.

"I basically thought to myself if I don't go all out now, I've got no chance,” she said.

"If I fall again, I fall again.

"Ninety per cent of the time (in gymnastics) if I don't go for it then there's no point trying for it. You could risk getting hurt and that is a no go.”

The CQ University student has not had an easy journey to get this far.

She started at the club in 2008 and has been there for 11 years to get to the goal.

Dannalee Williams.
Dannalee Williams. Mike Knott BUN081118GYM4

Williams also had to deal with autism to get there but not once did she let it deter her.

"The biggest part was making myself work for it,” she said.

"Pushing through things is a big struggle and when I do manage to get it I get overly excited and then I freak myself out in the next lesson about doing the same skill I just mastered.

"I think the biggest part was making myself push hard until I got the skill completely.”

Williams also had problems in level four, trying to build enough confidence to catch the bar.

Level 10 gymnast Dannalee Williams.
Level 10 gymnast Dannalee Williams. Mike Knott BUN081118GYM1

Ifield said: "She's had numerous challenges.”

"To reach a level you have to be persistent. It takes a lot of dedication. We are so proud of her.”

Now that Williams has reached level 10 the aim is to help others get to the target.

She is a coach at the club and judges competitions as well.

"That (coaching) makes me happy, I like seeing other kids exceed,” she said.

"I plan on staying here and coach. Even if I move away I'll coach at another club.”

Williams will compete this weekend at a competition at home (below) before hopefully competing at the state titles and maybe nationals next year.



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