Proving it’s more than just a pretty face, the Gold Coast is continuing to lure new businesses and sporting clubs thanks to its vibrant economy, growing population and reputation as one of Australia’s most active and healthy cities.
Even before it successfully hosted 6600 athletes and officials for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games the city was known as a world-class sporting destination thanks to the plethora of international events it continues to host every year.
Many high-profile national sporting clubs and organisations have set up their head offices on the Gold Coast, this includes Supercars, Mountain Bike Australia, FIBA Oceania and Triathlon Australia, to name just a few.
The city’s ‘have-a-go’ spirit has seen entrepreneurs and innovators flock to the area and develop the Gold Coast’s startup ecosystem, with many new and innovative companies emerging and attracting overseas investment. Interstate businesses offering a unique skill set or product are increasingly setting up shop on the Gold Coast.
World-class tumbling coach Wei Jun Lee recently left a prestigious coaching job and club in Sydney’s Northern Beaches to establish Skybound Gymnastics Club in Burleigh Heads. In 2018 Lee was assigned as one of two National Australian Team tumbling coaches and travelled to Russia to attend the 2018 World Age Group Competition.
Lee says his decision to invest in the Gold Coast wasn’t made lightly, with the accomplished trainer conducting a viability survey of the city. He undertook extensive research that included examining the city’s road infrastructure and whether an indoor sport would be supported by the community when warm climate outdoor sports appeared to dominate.
“What I found is there’s a massive void of tumbling in Queensland due to the small number of experienced coaches. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to grow the fantastic sport of tumbling into something special. The Gold Coast in particular attracted me as the roads make the entire city accessible within 30-40 minutes, and the lifestyle is also a major bonus,” he says.
“Cheerleading is also huge here on the Gold Coast and a major component of that is tumbling, and trampolining is also a large part of the gymnastics community in Queensland and a close relative to tumbling. I would love to be the driving force behind the growth of tumbling on the Gold Coast.
“But my gym isn’t all about helping those at the elite level, it’s different to the large clubs and businesses that already exist here because we’re dedicating to delivering boutique classes for children as young as two as well as developing well-rounded athletes and confident individuals.”
Before Skybound Gymnastics Club opened in May, Reedy Creek mother of three Robyn de Beer used to travel to Brisbane three times a week so her Olympic-hopeful son Joshua, 12, could practice his tumbling and trampolining. At the nationals in Melbourne in May, Joshua became eligible to take part in the world championships that are being held in Tokyo in November. The Gold Coaster is the only Queensland-based tumbling athlete in the Australian team.
“There was no one offering tumbling on the Gold Coast, so for five months we had to spend 9 hours a week in the car travelling just for 9 hours of practice; well short of the 18 hours he used to do when we lived in NSW. Fortunately for us, Wei offers the unique skill set and the hours required for Josh to continue to compete as an elite Australian athlete,” she says.
As well as preparing for the international event, Joshua is looking to qualify for the world championships when he competes at Gymnastics Australia’s National Clubs Gymnastic Carnival on the Gold Coast in September. With the support of the City of Gold Coast and Tourism and Events Queensland, the event is being hosted by the city for three years from 2018. The massive 18-day festival of gymnastics runs from September 11-29 and attracts some 5000 competitors, officials, support staff and spectators from across Australia.
Lee, who also ran Sydney Gymnastics and Aquatic Centre’s tumbling and under 5s program, says he’s excited about the future of tumbling in Australia and is confident the Gold Coast could be the next breeding ground for world tumblers.
“Australia is already making a huge scene in the competitive world thanks to the efforts of NSW Tumbling coach Dima Kachan (his former colleague) and now I’m hoping that Queensland can grow the number of tumbling athletes it has competing on a global scale.
“I believe I can bring that standard of tumbling to the Gold Coast for sure,” he says.