Clarke and Pickering's long road to Tokyo
With just 72 hours until their Olympic campaign kicks-off, Australian Olympic Trampoline debutantes Jessica Pickering and Dominic Clarke have reflected on their unusual lead-up to the games.
Since the Australian Gymnastics Championships on the Gold Coast in May, the pair have spent 8 weeks on the road, starting in Italy where they competed at the Brescia World Cup alongside Australian Teammates Claire Arthur and Kira Ward, and coaches Brett Austine and Belinda Cox.
In one of their final competitions, Pickering finished in 9th position, boosting her qualification points enough to get her into Olympic Qualification contention.
Clarke also put down a solid performance, coming 20th out of a field of 44 competitors. Pickering and Ward also competed in the Female Synchronised trampoline competition, where the pair placed 3rd.
From here, the team travelled to Portugal, where they spent the next 5 weeks training, with the final World Cup event where they would end up acquiring enough points to gain Australia a spot in both the male and female Trampoline Gymnastics event at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Pickering, Clarke, Austine, and Cox travelled to Tokyo, where they were welcomed into the Inashiki City with an official ceremony with the local Mayor for their final training camp before moving into the Olympic Village earlier this week.
Clarke commented on what their time overseas has been like.
"We were lucky in Portugal where we spent most of our time that the restrictions to what we could do weren't as tight and we were there for so long, we got out and about to see and do lots of things.
“We went to a museum, and the beach and explored a few small cities in Portugal which we were lucky to do. In Italy and here in Japan, restrictions are tight, so I see the sights of my hotel room and training gym."
Both athletes couldn’t be more thankful for the support of their coaches, who both took leave from their respective jobs as high school teachers to support them on this journey.
"The support has been very encouraging and plentiful. Everyone has behind us every step of the way, which I’m very grateful for," Pickering said.
"The support from home has been overwhelming. So many people know how hard we worked before we left, and so many see the work we’re putting in here, and it’s very validating to feel the love from home,” said Clarke.
“Without that support before and now, I wouldn’t be in this position."
Looking forward to the Olympic competition, both athletes couldn’t be more excited to finally get onto the trampoline against the world’s best.
"We trust that our preparation have set us up well for the competition and now we are looking forward to the experience," Pickering said.
“We weren’t sure if we were going to get 1 spot let alone 2. The qualification process was so long and stressful, it’s taken the pressure off this one completely,” said Clarke.
“We did the hard work, and the Olympics is a celebration of what we achieved. So, I want to put up two routines I’m proud of and enjoy my time on the competition floor."
Once the competition is done, the team will very much look forward to coming home post games and celebrating with their family and friends.
You can watch Dom and Jess compete on Friday 30 and Saturday 31 July respectively, with qualifications kicking off at 2:00pm (AEST) each day.