Ellie Turner Lives up to the Hype; Emily de Rooy Punches Rookie Ticket in Australia
Two-time Games veteran, 25-year-old Ellie Turner—the heir apparent to win the title going into the Torian Pro Semifinal with veterans Tia-Clair Toomey and Kara Saunders sitting out the season to have babies—handled the pressure in Brisbane, Australia all weekend, comfortably winning the competition and punching her third straight ticket to Madison, WI.
The battle for the final two spots was less clear, as Jamie Simmonds, Katelin Van Zyl, Emily de Rooy and Grace Walton shuffled around the leaderboard all weekend. But in the end, it was four-time Games athlete Simmonds and 22-year-old rookie de Rooy—seventh at last year’s Torian Pro Semifinal—who finished the task, leaving Van Zyl, who led the competition after Day One, the odd person out in fourth and Walton in fifth.
Test 6: The leaderboard heading into Test 6 had Turner on top with Walton second, Van Zyl third, de Rooy fourth and Simmonds fifth, but all that changed after the technical test with handstand walking and pirouettes, chest-to-wall handstand push-ups and seated legless rope climbs.
- De Rooy cruised the entire way, proving that she’s not only good at lifting heavy weights but gymnastics is also her jam. She battled closely with Simmonds and it came down to the 20 overhead squats at 125 pounds at the end. De Rooy held on, while Simmonds dropped the barbell, giving De Rooy her second event win of the weekend.
- For her, the weekend has been about “proving it to myself” and about showcasing the work she has put in “to show I can be up there with the top guys,” de Rooy said after the event win. “I want to show the work I have put in to everyone and to show I can be up there with.”
- Meanwhile, as Turner put in yet another solid performance (fifth), such was not the case for Walton, 15th at last year’s Torian Pro Semifinal. She had a hard time getting through the seated legless rope climbs, eventually finishing 26th place, dropping from second all the way to sixth with just one event to go.
- Van Zyl also dug herself a bit of a hole on Test 6. Her 15th place finish dropped her out of the top three for the first time all weekend, into fourth.
Test 7: Heading into the final test—three rounds of 10 Echo Bike calories, 20 toes-to-bar and a 60-foot sandbag bear-hug carry—Turner had built herself a 20 point leader over de Rooy in second, while Simmonds sat in the final position with a 23 point lead over Van Zyl in fourth. Games veteran Madeline Sturt and Walton sat in fifth and sixth, but 60 and 61 points out of the coveted third place position.
- Despite the odds being small, both Sturt and Walton did all they could to move themselves up. Both athletes looked like they were on a mission with nothing to lose, an attitude that helped Sturt pick up the event while Walton took third.
- Meanwhile, in the battle for the final spot, for Van Zyl to scoop her second ticket to the Games, she needed a big performance and a bit of help from other competitors to fall between herself and Simmonds. But the veteran Simmonds ensured this didn’t happen. She stayed comfortably ahead of Van Zyl the whole event, finishing fifth overall, well ahead of Van Zyl in 10th.
- Finally, while neither Turner or de Rooy had their best events—seventh and 11th respectively—their performances were more than enough to lock up their spots and punch their tickets to Madison.
The big picture: With Toomey and Saunders out this year, the field was, to some degree, wide open in Brisbane. But after three days and seven tests of fitness, it was veterans Turner and Simmonds, and a new fresh face, de Rooy, who took advantage of the opening Toomey and Saunders left, giving them the opportunity to represent Oceania on the biggest stage of the sport this summer.