Rocky VidaFit's teen star stands tall on big stage
CROSSFIT: Teenager Tai Gwynne has shown her mettle against some of the country's best athletes at the Queensland heat of the All Star Affiliate Series.
The 15-year-old was part of the 30-strong contingent from VidaFit Rockhampton that competed at the gruelling competition in Brisbane.
Gwynne and her VidaFit Black teammates Dan Withers, Rhyce Philp, Alex Budrodeen, Jacinda Lawrence and Johanna Wesche finished fifth in the advanced division.
The VidaFit Pink team of Jesse Thompson, Jack Spottiswood, Matt Favari, Bec Lennon, Rachel Morrison and Sarah Pearson was third in the intermediate division.
Both teams have qualified for the national finals in Brisbane on December 1 and 2.
Their three other teams enjoyed top-20 finishes in the intermediate division, with Vidafit Blue 13th, Vidafit White 15th and Vidafit Grey 16th.
Rockhampton VidaFit director Dan Withers said it was another fantastic performance from his athletes.
The local affiliate fielded five teams this year, its strongest representation yet at the state finals.
"We went really well again,” he said.
"Two of our teams finished in the top 15 in Queensland, and we're the only affiliate to do that.
"We prepared for eight months for this. Our guys and girls trained six days a week, sometimes twice a day, so it was pretty intense leading up to the competition.
"To do the things we did down there is awesome, especially when you think about the calibre of athletes we're competing against.”
This was Withers' fifth state finals appearance and definitely the most challenging.
"That was the toughest field definitely in Queensland history,” he said.
"It was the biggest team competition in the world, there were 762 athletes over the whole weekend.
"It's a huge competition and it's just getting stronger and stronger.”
Withers could not speak highly enough about Gwynne, the only teenager in the open category.
"Tai's incredible. She really is a special athlete.
"At just 15 she was going toe-to-toe with some of the best athletes in Australia and competitors who are world-ranked.
"She is naturally gifted but the thing that separates her from everyone else are her characteristics.
"She is incredibly disciplined with her diet and training, she is not overawed in any situation and she can execute a game plan under fairly immense pressure.”
Withers said Gwynne was a star on the rise. "Tai's been with us for about 12 months and her development, particularly in the last six months, has been phenomenal.
"When you see the amount of work she puts in day in, day out it should come as no surprise.
"In terms of a teen athlete, she's the best I've seen.
"We've got a few goals we're working towards but with her character, work ethic and discipline, there's no reason she can't do anything in this sport.”