Chetkovich tells gymnastics community to protest against WAIS program cut


Gymnast Paige James’ future in the sport is now uncertain after funding cuts were announced to the women's artistic gymnastics program.
Gymnast Paige James’ future in the sport is now uncertain after funding cuts were announced to the women's artistic gymnastics program.

WA GYMNASTICS stalwart Liz Chetkovich fought back tears on Wednesday as she encouraged gymnasts, coaches and parents to protest against Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) funding cuts.

About 200 people in the gymnastics community rallied at Leederville’s Loftus Recreation Centre in light of Tuesday’s announcement that WAIS would no longer fund its 28-year-old women’s artistic gymnastics program beyond this year.

WAIS executive director Steve Lawrence said the decision, made after no one from the program qualified for the Rio Olympics, would not be overturned.

Chetkovich, the women’s artistic gymnastics high performance manager, addressed the hopeful crowd seated in the centre grandstand, and encouraged them to keep speaking out against the decision.

“Represent your views in public, keep the message alive,” she said.

“If you are worried about something there are people you can turn to.

“The coaches obviously it’s difficult for them, their careers are on the line.”

Six full-time coaches will lose their jobs in the cuts.

Gymnast Paige James, whose future is now in limbo, said she hoped the decision was overturned.

“It was a huge shock, I was on the way to training (when I found out),” she said.

“I think it’s crazy that it’s happening, I don’t really understand why but I hope they reverse it.

“It’s going to be a lot harder to achieve what I want to achieve, I’d have to spend money on travelling internationally.

“All these facilities I’ve had just wouldn’t have them anymore.”

Her mum Penny said moving interstate was not an option for the family.

She said Paige had carved a path for other female Aboriginal gymnasts, who now may not have the chance at heading to the Olympics in the future.