Mitchell's mentoring role

Lauren Mitchell

GYMNASTICS: ‘Australia's best ever gymnast’ Lauren Mitchell has taken on the role of athlete ambassador, in charge of mentoring Australia's 35-strong gymnastics team at this week’s Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF).

The West Australian-born dual Olympian is living in the village with the young athletes, helping them train and adjust to the unique pressures of an international multi-sport competition.

"It's such a great opportunity," Mitchell said of the AYOF. "Being able to live in the village, learning when to rest and dealing with distractions as well as experiencing international competition like this at a young age is so beneficial".

The 21-year-old trains with a number of the girls on the team and says being able to help them prepare and watch them compete in the Festival is very rewarding.

"I think it's important just to be a friend," Mitchell said of her role. "They already have their parents and coaches pushing them to succeed, so I'm really just support."

Mitchell has no solid plans to compete this year, choosing to try and correct a long standing shoulder injury instead. Her previous achievements have not been overlooked, especially by teams from overseas.

She was crowned world champion on floor at the 2010 World Championships in the Netherlands, making her the first Australian woman to win gold in gymnastics at a World Championships.

"It's a bit strange, I'm really just here to help the team, but I catch competitors from other countries staring at me."

The AYOF gymnastics competition gets underway on Friday.

Hannah Moore

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