Fiona Taylor photo

Gymnastics has always come naturally to Fiona Taylor, and last month she added to her accomplishments by winning Gymnastics Victoria’s Award of Excellence for Rhythmic Gymnastics.

Fiona, 35, hasn’t let a mild intellectual impairment stop her achieving extraordinary results across gymnastics or in her second sport, tennis. She has competed in rhythmic gymnastics since 2000, with the past five years at Eastern Gymnastics in Box Hill.

“I did 14 years of dancing in mainstream competition before I started, so that really helped,” she says. “I just went along with a friend and really enjoyed it. They have been a great club for me, always cheering me on.”

The recent award from Gymnastics Victoria – for which she defeated three nominees from mainstream competition – is just the most recent in a long line of accolades for Fiona. In 2011 and 2013 she was awarded the Rhythmic Gymnast of the Year award at Eastern Gymnastics, and in 2012 she received the Whitehorse Council Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award.

She’s also achieved fine results at Special Olympics level, winning overall gold at every Special Olympics State Games entered since 2001 and winning gold, silver, bronze, plus silver overall at the Special Olympics Nationals in Sydney in 2002. “I’ve got a box full of medals, almost 100 I think,” Fiona says, adding that the recent award was unbelievable: “I wasn’t expecting it.”

Fiona will compete at the Special Olympics National Games in Melbourne in October, where she hopes to avenge a loss from the 2002 games. “Competing in my home state, and against the girl who beat me by .025 per cent for the overall gold at the 2002 games in Sydney [Beth Hull] will be a big challenge. Hopefully I can win.”

Fiona did not compete in gymnastics at the Special Olympics Nationals in 2006 in Queensland and 2010 in South Australia because she played tennis instead, winning silver. She also competed at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai in 2007, where she won bronze and silver playing tennis. If she does well in October, Taylor will head to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in 2015.

“I went to China in 2007 to compete in tennis, so I’d love to go to one for gymnastics,” she says. “If I do that I’ll probably stop. I want to help some young gymnasts, maybe [as] an assistant coach or something like that. We’ll see.” 

To find out more about inclusive gymnastics opportunities available to you, visit the Gymnastics Victoria website or contact Kerry Tavrou on 9214 6020

To find out more about Special Olympics and the fantastic work they do for participation in sport with people with intellectual disabilities, visit the Special Olympics website or contact Tanya Files on 9877 2769

*Article text courtesy of The Weekly Review Eastern

*Photo courtesy of Timothy Burgess