Australian Masters Games

Flipping preconceptions

Alexandra Davidson - 6 October 2013

Flipping preconceptions

Admired by her gymnastic peers as an advocate for the sport, Bernie Spedding is a full time gymnastics coach but this weekend also a competitor at the 14th Australian Masters Games in Geelong.

During the competition Spedding could be seen helping out where she could and providing constant encouragement and support to other competitors during and after their routines. She speaks highly of her opponents, and enjoys the atmosphere of friendly rivalry,

“Everyone supports and appreciates the efforts of others,” she says.

Introduced into the sport at aged 11, she was a gymnastics coach by her late teens. After a brief break, she returned to coaching at age 22. Now 54, Spedding is a regional supervisor for gymnastics in New South Wales, a coach for three clubs, and organises primary school programs for her beloved sport.

She attended her first Masters Games in 1989, and believes the Games sends an important message to the community by promoting fitness and health in mature aged people and encouraging people to be active.

Spedding competes when she can, noting that there are not many mature aged gymnastics competitions.

“There are lots of sports that are geared towards adults like golf, ten bin bowling, fencing, and there are some sports which are more for kids. Gymnastics is more for kids, but the Masters Games turns all of that on its head,” Spedding says. 

“I complete because I get to meet people from all around the country, it encourages me to keep fit, and I get the opportunity to compete in the sport that I love even though I’m not a kid anymore.”

This time around Spedding was content to compete in three disciplines, picking up a silver in each and the same result in the all-around competitions – in each case behind her Victorian counterpart, Robyn Dowse, who also picked up wins in the other two individual events, for a total haul of six golds.

The Australian Masters Games will be staged until Saturday 12 October and is one of Australia’s largest multi sporting events.

For further Australian Masters Games information and to register, visit -

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