Australia’s Georgia Godwin: ‘With my age comes experience, maturity and confidence’

Written by John Crumlish for International Gymnast Online

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Photo courtesy of Georgia Godwin

Under the shiny weight of the five medals she earned at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, veteran Australian gymnast Georgia Godwin is buoyed by the prospect of competing at this month’s World Championships in Liverpool and her second Olympic Games two years hence.

Godwin’s tally of medals in Birmingham – all-around and vault golds, and team, uneven bars and balance beam silvers – launched to eight her career total of Games medals, equaling the all-time Commonwealth Games record for a female Australian gymnast that she now shares with compatriot Allana Slater.

The 24-year-old Godwin’s emotional reaction to her all-around victory in Birmingham expressed her joy, relief and sense of accomplishment following a pair of ankle surgeries last November. Based on those surgeries, Godwin had contemplated not competing at the Games at all.

Born October 28, 1997, in Southport, Queensland, Godwin is the daughter of a Japanese mother and an Australian father. “My mum is Japanese and dad is fluent in the language,” she notes. “I spoke Japanese before going to preschool and learning English.” International Gymnast magazine first featured Godwin in an inset cover photo of its March 2014 issue, followed by an interview with her in the October 2015 issue.

Godwin, who trains under coaches Sasha Belooussov and Olga Belooussov at Delta Gymnastics in Brisbane, finished 13th all-around at the 2017 World Championships in Montreal and 19th all-around at the 2019 Worlds in Stuttgart. She was third reserve for the all-around final at last summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, finishing about a half-point shy of a spot in the final after she ranked 37th out of 80 all-arounders in qualifications.

With Worlds in Liverpool looming at the end of this month, and the Paris Olympic Games less than two years away, Godwin shares her thoughts and hopes in this International Gymnast Online interview.

IGO: Although you had said your goal was just to compete in Birmingham, at what point during the all-around final did you believe you could actually win gold?

Photo courtesy of Georgia Godwin

GG: The moment it hit me that I could potentially win the gold in the all-around was just before I competed on beam. I knew I had to put up a good performance on beam to put myself in a good position for floor and so I could take out the all-around.

IGO: In recent years many gymnasts have remained competitive into their 20s. How have you managed to avoid viewing your age as a deterrent to more improvements and achievements as you approach 25 this month?

GG: It has been journey trying to come to terms with the fact that I am not a “spring chicken” anymore. I’ve come to the realization that with my age comes experience, maturity and confidence that I didn’t have when I was younger. Different things are a priority now, such as recovery and training smarter, but I still enjoy the challenges as much as I did when I was 12. 

IGO: How much, if at all, did you consider retiring after Tokyo and then your ankle surgeries last November?

GG: I am very proud of how I handled the Olympics. COVID wasn’t great for my preparation but I was grateful to be there representing my country. However, I did struggle a lot mentally after the Games, but retiring was never on my agenda. I knew I wanted to compete at another Commonwealth Games after having a great time at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast (where she won all-around silver, and team and uneven bars bronze). Post-Tokyo, I struggled physically as well. I ended up having bilateral ankle arthroscopies to clean out loose bone and bone spurs. Again, retiring wasn’t an option but I knew deep down, if I wasn’t ready for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, I would have to make the decision myself to forgo my spot and give it to someone else who was prepared and ready to go, so that was pretty stressful. 

IGO: How did you reconcile just missing a spot in the all-around final in Tokyo and what might have been?

GG: Making an all-around final would have been an amazing opportunity, but there’s no point dwelling on the past. The lessons I learned in Tokyo are now incorporated into everyday training and how I approach competition, which I think has helped me out a lot. 

IGO: As one of the most experienced active Australian gymnasts, what recommendations or suggestions can you offer to improve the coaching culture in the sport in your country?

GG: I think the culture in gymnastics is definitely moving in the right direction. I believe we did so well at the Commonwealth Games because the environment we were in was more athlete-focused and positive. Don’t get me wrong, there still needs to be changes, but I am confident in the future of Australian gymnastics. 

IGO: You have also stated the you are taking things one competition at a time, but how much did your post-Commonwealth Games vacation in Paris inspire you to at least consider the 2024 Games?

GG: I loved Paris, and the holiday post-Commonwealth Games did wonders for my physical and mental health. I am still taking it one competition at a time, but I have also committed to training until the Paris Olympic Games and would absolutely love to be there.

IGO: Working 20 hours per week, how do you apportion your energy so you’re operating at 100% for both your work and training responsibilities?

GG: I do currently work 20 hours on top of training. I am not in a position where I can live without the income, so I have to make it work. I used to work in a hospital but that was very taxing on the legs, body and mind, so I am now working from home, doing admin for a gardening business. I am trying to find more sponsors with the help of a manager, which I am really excited for. I haven’t finished my studies (at the University of Queensland) yet and they are currently on hold, as my priority is training and work right now. 

IGO: Coming from such an emotional high in Birmingham, how are you adjusting yourself mentally so you can get focused and back to business for the important new task ahead in Liverpool?

GG: I am not changing anything for Worlds. I have some upgrades in the works but they will come out next year. I have thrown myself back into training, and am refocused and ready to go. 

To purchase back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

International Gymnast Online’s other recent coverage of Australian gymnasts includes:

Australia’s Godwin and England’s Jarman take all-around gold, England sweeps team titles at Commonwealth Games

Australia’s Stephens: ‘An Adventure Without Risk Seems Dull and Pointless, So Here I Am’

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