Interview with Emily Whitehead, Dual Commonwealth Medalist
In 2016, Waverly Gymnastics and Gymnastics Victoria contacted me to work with Emily to ensure she was maximising her training, performance, health and overall wellbeing by fuelling optimally.
At a young age, Emily had already reached a high level of Gymnastics but at the time of us meeting, she was caught up in a frustrating cycle of injuries. Emily was just 15 when we met and still developing as a young adolescent, had a very high volume of training while still attending school.
Emily’s passion, determination and maturity really impressed and inspired me, and I was committed to support her long-term goals as best I could, while looking out for her overall health.
Competing at a high level in any sport, especially one which has a strong focus on physique, is an area that I believe you must approach with caution, especially when it comes to young girls. Under eating, over training, being ‘too lean’ and eating disorders are some common issues in this group, and these disorders can have serious detrimental physical and psychological outcomes. Emily has had great support, education and role models around her which I believe as helped prevent her from going down these dangerous paths.
My goals were always support Emily to perform at her full potential in Gymnastics and fulfil her goals, but also to ensure she has the energy and health to do the best she can in school and always promote a healthy relationship with food and body. I am so proud of Emily’s achievements at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and they have not stopped there!
I asked Emily if she would be part of an interview to provide insight into what it is like competing at such a high level, the importance of nutrition and balance for a happy and healthy mind and body! I hope you enjoy.
Keep updated with Emily’s progress on Instagram @emily_whitehead_
Age you started Gymnastics: 5 years old.
What got you into Gymnastics? My mum. My older sister did it and I just wanted to be like her.
What results did you achieve at the 2018 Commonwealth Games? 3rd place as a team, 3rd place on Vault, 5th place on Beam.
What was your proudest moment at the games? Winning an individual medal.
Describe a typical week of training leading up to the games. Very busy, most days I leave home at 5:45 am and don’t arrive home until around 9pm.
How many hours per week do you usually train? 32.5 hours per week.
What year are you in at school? Year 12 (VCE). I’m in my final year.
What is your 5 and 10-year goals? 5 year goal is to make the Olympic team, but I don’t have a 10 year goal as I just want to see how I go, and take it slowly.
If there was no Gymnastics, what do you think life look like? I wouldn’t know myself 🙂 I would have a ridiculous amount of free time.
Who is your biggest support? My mum has been my biggest supporter throughout my whole career. She has not only supported me every step of the way but also has spent the last 8 or so years driving me 2 hours every day to training!
What has been some of the biggest challenges over the years with Gymnastics? My biggest challenge over the years was probably in 2016 / 2017. 2016 was the Olympic year and unfortunately I got injured while I was away for the Rio Olympic Test event, therefore I was unable to help Australia qualify a team which really made me question whether this was the path I wished to continue. I decided that one set back wasn’t enough to stop. So I just set some new goals and the main one was to make the 2017 Worlds Team which was in October. Unfortunately, again I got injured and was unable to train at all for 2 months, which really made me question Gymnastics in general. But the support from everyone I received is what truly got me through.
What is one thing you wish you could change about Gymnastics? Removing beam and putting a different apparatus 🙂
What (thoughts, etc.) get you out of bed and to training? In Summer time it’s easy to get out of bed. However, Winter it is hard as it’s so cold. But I just think of my end goal (the Olympics) and that’s what gets me out of bed.
When it comes to ‘healthy food’ or a ‘healthy diet’ what would best define this for you? Keeping a balance. I believe there is no such thing as ‘no junk food’. I am a strong believer on keeping a balance, if I ever feel like something ‘junkie’, I will allow myself to have some 🙂
What was the main thing/s you learned from working with me (Amy) (dietitian)? The biggest thing I learned from you is probably being more open to trying new foods. I have always been such a fussy eater but since meeting you, I am always looking to try new things.
What is your favourite pre-training or pre-event meal or snack? Bliss Balls from Carman are the best pre-comp snack as it’s not too heavy.
What is your favourite post training or event meal or snack? Post comp I love having cheese and crackers 🙂
What is your least favourite food? Mushrooms.
What would your friends or family say is the weirdest / most unique thing you do? How determined I am to achieve what I want achieve.
How do you keep yourself motivated to eat well or choose food that you know supports your training and health? I strongly believe in a balanced ‘diet’ which helps keep me motivated.
Who is your idol? Madison Kocian is someone I look up to.
If someone wanted to start Gymnastics, where should they go? For children, I would say Waverley Gymnastics as they have a huge range and many programs that suit individual needs. For Adults, I am not too sure as Waverley haven’t started an adult Gym program.