Allana Slater - Judging gymnast vaults to new heights

Gymnastics vault
Author:  Sharon Phillips
Issue: Volume 6 Number 2

What does a former Olympic athlete do when she’s looking for adrenalin, excitement, fascination and continuing involvement in her sport?

If you are Allana Slater, you become an international gymnastics judge.

Slater is probably best known as the most successful women’s artistic gymnast that Australia has produced.  She competed at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games, and took home three gold medals from two Commonwealth Games.  In 2003, Slater led the team that won a bronze medal at the world championships.

Slater retired from competition in 2005 but was looking for a way of giving back to the sport that she says has given her so much.

‘Gymnastics has given me so much in life, so many experiences and so many qualities - discipline, focus, concentration, time management - and I wanted to give back in a different way,’ Slater said from her Perth base.

‘I’ve seen a lot of athletes go on to coach and a few have made it internationally, but I thought that I had a lot of knowledge about the sport and becoming a judge was something I thought was a good pathway for me.’

From an early age Slater appreciated the role that judges played in her sport. 

‘Even after competitions I’d go up and talk to them [judges].  They’re people too.  I knew that they were there to do the best job they could possibly do and to fairly judge on technical and artistic aspects.’

Slater says the challenges of judging were what appealed to her the most.  ‘It’s a big responsibility to get it right, to really care about getting it right and use your knowledge.  You get a huge sense of satisfaction from doing it well.  It’s almost as enjoyable as performing.’

In making the transition Slater had support from the gymnastics fraternity in Western Australia and nationally including national coach Peggy Liddick.  Yet she says she would have found pursuing her goal more difficult if it hadn’t been for a grant from the Australian Sports Commission through the Sports Leadership Grants for Women program.

‘The Commission helped with fees for my courses and flights to the east coast where the courses were held,’ Slater says.  ‘I also had the chance to watch the Commonwealth Games trials and to see how the judges there interacted with each other, which is something you aren’t exposed to as a competitor.

‘If I hadn’t had that assistance, I would still have tried but it would have made things much more difficult.  As it is, I was able to get my accreditation much more quickly and start to use my knowledge.’

The 22-year-old finished her accreditation in January after a week-long course and two intensive theoretical and practical exams.

She joins Australia’s 36 other accredited Women’s Artistic Gymnastics judges, all of whom are volunteers and are required to be re-assessed for accreditation every four years. 

For the time being Slater will continue to work as a public and motivational speaker while refining her judging skills at various events.  She hopes to study in a medicine-related field at University next year and manage both pursuits.

‘I will never lose my love for the sport,’ she says.  ‘Ultimately I would love to be a judge at world championships and Olympic Games.  Obviously that won’t be happening immediately, but I will definitely be focusing on it in the future.’

 


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