Last August, in an old chicken shed in suburban Queensland, world champion Lilly Barker was skipping as fast as she could. It was hot, hard work and the 21-year-old was putting in every ounce of effort she could muster. She was being filmed for her entry into the recently held virtual World Skipping Championships, and it was a far cry from the competition atmosphere she was used to.
“This was particularly strenuous because we had as many opportunities to film every single event as many times as we wanted until it was perfect,” she said. “Some would think that’s a good thing. But when you’re aiming for perfection and have time on your side, the challenge is different, both mentally and physically. Usually on the day [of a competition] we thrive on the adrenaline. We rarely crack under the pressure.”
Competitive skipping is complicated. It involves lightning speed, choreographed moves and high-level skill. There are two categories: speed and freestyle. Barker alternates between the two.
This World Championships, Barker was in more than 10 events, both individual and team. With the videos for the virtual event submitted in August, the results were a long time coming – but worth the wait. She and Ben Cooper won gold and set a new (unofficial) world record in the 2×30-second-double-unders event. That’s one of the speed events – Cooper skips for 30 seconds as fast as he can, then Barker does the same.
As an individual, Barker bagged bronze in the open women’s division. “It’s the best feeling in the entire world,” she said.
Overseas plans for Sydney stars
Melbourne Cup heroine Verry Elleegant and champion sprinter Nature Strip have resumed racing at the Autumn Carnival. Trainer Chris Waller hopes to run Nature Strip, rated the world’s best sprinter, in the Group 1 Kings Stand Stakes (1200m) at Britain’s Royal Ascot in June. Mighty mare Verry Elleegant will likely be aimed at the Group 1 Arc d’Triomphe (2400m) in Paris in October.
Let’s go, Rabbitohs!
John Lanzky reports: “I’ve watched Souths training at Redfern. I believe there’s strong rapport between the players and new coach Jason Demetriou. This is his first appointment as a senior coach in the NRL, a position for which he has worked very hard.
“The young players are showing real enthusiasm. The senior players are showing leadership – that’s what teamwork is all about.
“Since its inception in 1982, the Charity Shield has been played on 39 occasions. Of these, the Dragons (St George and St George Illawarra) and the Rabbitohs have now each won 17 times (the Rabbitohs have retained the shield as the current holder in five drawn matches).
“The game in Mudgee on February 26, won for the first time in 10 years by the Dragons (16-10), revealed that the good rapport between Souths’ senior and junior players must continue over coming weeks. New halfback, Lachlan Ilias, showed that with a few more games under his belt he’ll take it to the next level.
“Round 1 sees the Rabbitohs play the Broncos in Brisbane. It will be good to watch Ilias shape up against Adam Reynolds.”