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Feats of skill and fitness
Athlete Profile: Bridget Rieger

Bridget Rieger in Brisbane (Photo: Kangaroo Photos)
Bridget Rieger in Brisbane (Photo: Kangaroo Photos)

Aerobic Gymnast and Redfern local Bridget Rieger speaks about her recent national title, her support network and fitting everything in. 

Congratulations on becoming the 2012 Aerobic Gymnastics National Champion! Can you tell us about the event and the preparation leading up to it.

Thank you so much! I got back into Aerobic Gymnastics in late January this year and decided I really wanted to prove that I could win Nationals this year, so basically I spent most of the year preparing for this goal. There is a lot more that goes into the sport than people realise – with strength, flexibility, precision of skills, choreography, presentation, and fitness which is the hardest part. Luckily, I have been a gymnast my whole life so I have a pretty good base for this sport.

National Championships were held up in Brisbane in September, over four days. We had the preliminary round on Friday night (Day 2) which is important, as it’s the first impression the judges get of you. I came out placed first after that and managed to make the Australian Development squad qualifying score (this was another goal, to make the squad). So I just had to make sure I could keep my spot for the finals, which I did!

How did it feel when you received this title? I’m sure you have a large support network there to cheer you on?

It was so amazing! I was terrified because we had to wait about five hours after we competed until the presentations. I never watched the other competitors (other than my training partner Nicky) so I had no idea what they were like. It felt so ironic to burst into tears … but there was a lot of emotion and stress and self-appointed pressure that led up to that point … so the moment second place was called and it wasn’t my name, I could not stop smiling/crying!

Yes, my amazing mum flew up and cheered me on. Without her, none of it would have been possible. So it was great to have her support up there with me at a stressful time. The girls from training were fantastic to have there as well. Nicky, especially, helped me to stay calm and not get too overwhelmed. My coach Lauren DjaMirze (formally Lauren Farry, six-time World Champion) sadly couldn’t be there but was just at the other end of the phone.

Has gymnastics always been an interest of yours?

Yes, I started Artistic Gymnastics when I was 3 and have never looked back. It’s always been my passion and a part of who I am. I have competed in a few gymsports now, such as Acrobatic Gymnastics, Cheerleading and Aerobic Gymnastics. I just can’t stay away from it! I think I will always be involved in some form of gymnastics.

I started getting an interest in circus skills from camps as a child, then discovered my passion for Flying Trapeze when I was about 15. Like most other things, I got hooked, and have so far only dipped my toes into what is out there in the world of circus and performing but the possibilities are endless and that is something that I will be looking more seriously into now.

With all of these commitments you must have to stay very organised. If you could, what advice would you give to some aspiring gymnasts and circus performers?

Yes, it is tough trying to fit everything in. I have always tried to squash in too many things! I would say that it’s important to set small goals before becoming overwhelmed with the big goals! That is one of the main things I need to learn as well. Otherwise, just try to keep at it and not give up! I’m not so sure I am really that organised. But I guess I have sacrificed a lot to be able to achieve the things I have achieved.

What’s next in store for you?

Well, I am about to head off to train in Perth for two weeks … It’s the start of my preparation for my 2013 routine. We have trials for the International Competitions coming up in January, which is really exciting but terrifying as it’s my first ever trial. So, lots of hard work and training ahead for me. Otherwise, I am just finishing up my degree at Sydney Uni, so hoping to find a lot more time for work and training now. I have started doing Double Trapeze with my beautiful friend and world-class acrobat Megan Bolton. We are hoping to start performing for corporate events or shows soon. So, if anyone wants an amazing act, we would love to perform for you!

My goal and dream in the near future, though, is to compete for Australia for Aerobic Gymnastics, and then I would like to become a performer for Cirque Du Soleil. So fingers crossed!

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