Larrissa Miller of Australia made a quick transition to world competition and left a positive impression at last month’s world championships in London, where she placed seventh on uneven bars.
Larrissa Miller (Australia) at the 2009 World Championships in London
Born July 12, 1992, in Monanbah, Miller began training at age five. She trains under coaches Sasha and Olga Beloussov at Moreton Bay College in Brisbane. (Sasha coaches her on uneven bars, tumbling and vault; Olga coaches her on balance beam, dance and vault.)
Miller is part of a very athletic family. Her mother, Leonie, is a child care worker who used to compete in swimming. Her father, David, is an underground miner who used to play soccer. Miller has two brothers, Kelvin and Cody, and one sister, Nicole. Kelvin used to play soccer, Cody used to play soccer and trained in high-level gymnastics, and Nicole used to participate in gymnastics and swimming.
IG recently spoke with Miller, who recounted her London performances and revealed her plans for all-around success in 2010.
IG: Larrissa, how did you cope with the pressure of competing in your first world championships? This competition was a big jump from your previous competitions at the national level.
LM: It was actually easier than I had always imagined it would be. When I went out on the podium I didn’t look up at the audience; I just kept to myself and kept focused. Although I was nervous as soon as I jumped on to the apparatus, I just did my routine like I normally would. The hardest thing for me was probably not getting a 30-second touch before I performed, because I had never had to do that before.
IG: What were your realistic expectations going into London?
LM: I didn’t really have any expectation, because it was my first world championships and I didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted to go out there and compete my routine the best that I could. Just getting into the finals was really exciting for me.
IG: Based on your performance in the final, how close to a maximum performance did you feel you gave? What, if anything, could you have done better?
LM: I think I was a little more nervous going into event finals. I got a higher Execution score but I also missed my shoot-over to handstand which meant the Start Value of my routine went down. I definitely could have done a better shoot-over and also a cleaner dismount landing.
IG: Now that you have competed in a world championships final, what changes or improvements do you feel you need to make in order to challenge for a medal?
LM: I am working on raising the Start Value of my routine, both by skill and connections. I am also working hard to keep my Execution score up. I think if I can get a better Start Value and keep my Execution score as high as I can. I will have a stronger opportunity of medaling.
IG: Bars being your strongest event, what efforts are you making to improve your performances on the other three events?
LM: Before the world championships I wasn’t full training the other three apparatuses because of a foot injury. Now I am just trying really hard to get all my other routines together so I can compete all-around. I can do all my skills on beam and my tumbles on floor. I just have to work at getting them into a routine and getting my fitness up. On vault I am trying to increase my difficulty and do more repetitions.
IG: In London, how did you maintain your personal 'cool' despite the highs and lows faced by your teammates, such as Shona Morgan's knee injury and Lauren Mitchell's close brush with a medal in the all-around)?
LM: I didn’t find out about Shona’s knee until after I competed in qualifications, which was a good thing. I did feel sorry for both Shona and Lauren, but I really just tried not to think about it, and not let it get to me. I just focused on what I had to do in the event finals.
IG: Heading into 2010, in what ways do you think you can help the Australian team, especially since the 2010 Worlds will include a team competition?
LM: I am trying hard to get an all-around program ready for 2010. I think floor and bars will be my strongest events but I am also working hard at getting my other two events together with higher Start Values.