After winning the Level 10 division at the recent Australian Gymnastics Championships, Chloe Sims told IG that concern for her health and frustration over politics have discouraged her from resuming her international career.
Chloe Sims (Australia) at the 2006 Commonwealth Games
"I have no intention to return to elite gymnastics, as my body is not as young as it used to be," said the 18-year-old Sims. "As much as my Olympic dream is still alive, I am certain that I would not be welcomed back."
Sims, who won the Level 10 all-around title Australian Championships on Friday in Perth, deemed the past year "full of ups and downs."
At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Sims won the all-around title and helped the Australian team to gold. Following the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, where Australia qualified a full team for 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, she withdrew from the national team.
Sims was the second Australian team member to bypass Beijing, with her announcement coming a few months after the surprise retirement of World Cup gold medalist Hollie Dykes.
"At the time I found myself stuck in a situation where pursuing the 'ultimate' wasn't going to be a positive outcome for my health," Sims told IG last fall of her decision.
Sims aimed for a fresh start at the University of Utah, where she planned to compete in the NCAA system. However, the NCAA declared her HSC (High School Certificate) unacceptable, leaving her ineligible to compete in collegiate gymnastics.
"I did not receive any of the specifics from the NCAA as to why I was not accepted, so it was very disappointing to be left in the dark," Sims said. "Utah had given me the green light and had my dorm, classes and uniforms all ready for me. I still keep in touch with (coach) Greg Marsden and the team, and even though I was only there for a few days, I miss them very much."
Coaching at a club in Queensland, Sims began training for the Level 10 division (one below the elite level) at the Australian Championships, which concluded Tuesday.
"I started back doing Level 10 National because I was in the gym six days a week coaching, and was a little jealous that the other girls were able to do all the cool tricks that I was so used to doing," Sims said. "Also, Queensland, my home state, had not won the Level 10 Australian title for 10 years. So when one of my team mates came to me and said they only needed one more girl to complete the team, I was more than happy to chalk up."
In addition to winning the Level 10 all-around title, Sims helped Queensland place first in the Level 10 team competition, by 15.13 points, over Australian Capital Territory. Other members of the victorious Queensland team were Kristy Bishop and Steph Zietek (Delta Brisbane), Monique Cowan (Barron Valley, Cairns), Emma Longmuir (Gymnastics Townsville) and Tara Brady (Moreton Bay College, Brisbane).
Sims said that, despite the success Sims achieved in the previous and recent stages of her career, politics often played a detrimental role.
"Even at a national level I have found that you are not judged on what you perform, but on how you look and what institution or club you represent," Sims said.
Sims said she hopes that negative influences often associated with high-level sports will be minimized for the next generations of Australian gymnasts.
"I do not wish any of the future gymnasts to have to compete not only with other athletes but also the unnecessary politics within the sport," she told IG. "It can ruin so many dreams and waste so much potential for Australia to become an even stronger competitor in the world. On a more positive note, I am starting university next week, studying business and majoring in management. I hope to one day open a tattoo and piercing studio in Australia."