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Sporting Schools School Yard to Sports Star: Danielle Prince

Danielle Prince

Image: It took years of hard work and dedication for rhythmic gymnast Danielle Prince to realise her dream.

Rhythmic gymnast Danielle Prince is the only Australian female gymnast to represent Australia at three Commonwealth Games.

A five-time Australian National Champion and dual Commonwealth Games medallist, Danielle took up the sport when she was 11.

Known for her talent, grace and work ethic, Danielle realised her childhood dream of becoming an Olympian at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing 25th in the All-Round competition.

She also says competing in front of a home crowd at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games is one of her most memorable sporting moments.

Danielle wasn’t always one of the best gymnasts – she talks to Sporting Schools about where it all began.

What's your funniest sporting memory at school? 

My funniest memory of school sport was my first day at a new school in high school and we were playing volleyball in HPE. Every time the ball came my way I kept catching the ball with my hands instead of trying to hit it. In Rhythmic you do whatever you can to catch the ball and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't override my instinct to catch the ball! As you can imagine nobody wanted me on their team in future lessons!

Were you always good at sport?

I was most definitely not good at sport throughout school. I clearly remember one HPE lesson in high school when we were learning to play touch football and my teacher at the time openly laughed and told me that I couldn't throw a ball. Nine years later I represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics for a sport that requires highly specialised hand-eye coordination throwing and catching a ball. Needless to say when people tell me I can't do something, I like to try as hard as I can to prove them wrong! 

How did you get into gymnastics?

A dance teacher suggested I try Rhythmic Gymnastics because I was quite naturally flexible. 

Do you remember your first win?

Yes, for the first three years of doing gymnastics I was the athlete that was coming 24th out of 26 athletes. In my fourth year of competing, I competed at the Queensland State Trials and I won the competition in Junior International. It was a big shock for me, my coaches and my parents, nobody expected me to win at all after being at the bottom for so many years.

When did you decide you wanted to do gymnastics competitively and put all your energy into it?

After I moved into Senior International I changed coaches to become more competitive and the following the year I put my university to part-time and began working part-time to help support my gymnastics training. I was no longer a teenager whose parents just dropped me off at the gym, I was a young adult driving myself and making the choice to be there and put all my energy into being there.

How often would you train when at school?

Throughout high school I would train six days a week. I would often spend lunch times and before school in the library to get my homework and assignments done.

What are your top three tips for children playing sport?

My top tips for kids playing sport would be to find a sport you are passionate about, create a support network of wonderful people around to help you through and dream big! 

Sporting Schools is a $200 million Australian Government initiative to get more children playing more sport, before, during and after school. Want to run a Gymnastics program at your school? Check out all the details on the Gymnastics Australia page.

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