• Australia's Larrissa Miller competes on the floor exercise during the 2015 World Gymnastic Championships (AAP)Source: AAP
The Western Australia Institute of Sport this week decide to close Perth’s Women’s Artistic Gymnastics National Centre of Excellence without warning. And man, has there been a backlash.
Erin Byrnes

14 Jul 2016 - 11:25 AM  UPDATED 14 Jul 2016 - 11:30 AM

The centre is one of the Australia’s premier training centres for elite gymnasts and has produced 9 Olympians, 10 Commonwealth Games representatives and several World Championship medalists.

It’s run by the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) and is funded by the Western Australian Government.

President of Gymnastics Australia, Jacqui Briggs-Weatherill, said the decision was made without warning or consultation.  

“This is a very cruel and short sighted decision by WAIS that if not reversed will end the Olympic ambitions of many young women in one of Australia’s fastest growing sports.” 

Around 60 women are currently training at the Perth National Centre of Excellence, including 2010 World Champion, Lauren Mitchell.

Briggs-Weatherill said unless the State Government reverses the closure decision made by WAIS, many talented gymnasts will be lost to the sport.

Australia had failed to qualify for the Olympic women’s artistic teams competition, with Victorian Larrissa Miller the only artistic gymnast headed to Rio.

In a statement, the WAIS said has a “commitment to supporting WA’s contribution to Australia’s international sporting success.” 

We can't help but wonder if it's a knee-jerk reaction to the 2016 Olympic campaign. 

The Twitter reaction has been savage, with the gymnastics community fuming.

And some in total disbelief, with the decision coming out of the blue.

Dual Olympian Allana Slater, who retired in 2005, joined the chorus of discontent. 

“It will end so many young, talented gymnasts’ Olympic dreams,” she told The West Australian.

Gymnastics Australia CEO Mark Rendell has tried to flag the attention of WA MP Julie Bishop.

There’s also a call to write to the Sports Minister, and a Change.Org petition is up and running.

Unfortunately, when it comes to decisions involving dollars, it's incredibly rare to score a win. Chalk this one up to a dark day which could signal the beginning of a dark era for a highly prestigious and storied sport - and a decision that's even more baffling when you consider we're just weeks from Rio 2016.

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