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Melb gymnast Ashari Gill on her 2022 Commonwealth Games win

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For even the uninitiated, observing a rhythmic gymnastics performance can be a fascinating experience, watching on as the performers combine their athletic prowess with dance and calisthenics.

For 20-year-old Ashari Gill, the fascination began when watching the 2006 Commonwealth Games as a child.

“It was being held in Melbourne at the time and I think I was around four years old. Shortly after, my mum took me to my first gymnastics class and I never looked back,” she told Indian Link with a grin.

Her own Commonwealth gymnastics journey came full circle last month, winning silver at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games alongside teammates Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva and Lidiia Iakovleva. The trio finished second on 268.650 points, ahead of England (267.050) and falling just short of gold medallists Canada (272.950).

“It was one of the most enjoyable competitions that I’ve been to and it was really different from any of my previous experiences,” Ashari recalled. “The stadium was larger, the music was much louder, but it only added to the excitement. Most of all, the crowd was wonderful in cheering for all teams equally.”

Despite feeling well-prepared after three weeks of intensive training in Germany ahead of the Games, the Monash University student admits the nerves kicked in getting ready ahead of the event.

“I remember getting jittery when I started to do my hair. To calm myself, I put on my AirPods and just tried to gather my thoughts,” she added.

Although “very nervous” during her first routine, the gymnast eventually settled in. As the day drew to a close, she was the last of her team to finish up their Commonwealth Games outing, performing her ribbon routine to Sonny Bono’s ‘Bang Bang’ to receive a score of 25.200.

“The whole competition was quite fun! After a point, it felt like I was performing rather than competing,” Ashari smiled.

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ashari gill
Ashari’s gymnastics journey began at four-years-old, attending Prahran Rhythmic Gymnastics Specialist Centre in Melbourne. Source: supplied

To those unfamiliar with the rules of rhythmic gymnastics, it requires the athletes to perform on a floor with an apparatus: either ribbon, clubs, hoop, or ball. The difficulty of each routine looks at body difficulties like jumps or rotations, the choreography of the dance steps and body expression, exchanges and collaborations of the group, and technical handling of the chosen apparatus. (Ashari says her strongest apparatus is probably the clubs – “it’s also my favourite one,” she notes.)

Apart from her recent Commonwealth Games win, Ashari was also shortlisted for the High Performance Athlete of the Year award by Gymnastics Victoria back in 2018.

Interestingly, she isn’t the only one in her family to enjoy the spotlight in the field of sports. Her grandfather Dhansiri Weerasinghe was once part of Sri Lanka’s national cricket team, playing between 1958 and 1969.

What are some of the major lessons she’s learned over the years as an athlete?

“The first takeaway has definitely been sacrifice, learning to give up other commitments to be able to train and practice. I know I missed a fair bit of high school social events,” she admitted. “I’ve found that sports also inculcates a great work ethic. You’ve got to be disciplined and learn to manage your time wisely.”

Danasiri Weerasinghe
Ashari’s grandfather, former Sri Lankan cricketer Danasiri Weerasinghe. Source: supplied

Ashari now finds herself at cross-roads as one of the older competitors in the field, since becoming eligible to compete in senior-level competitions when she turned 16 years old.

She’s currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts & Science full-time after 1.5 years of part-time study to be able to train for the Games and views this period as “an interesting time.”

“I’m definitely taking my time to decide what I’d like to do now and what I’d like to achieve from here. It’s pretty exciting, though!” she signed off.

Up close and personal with Ashari Gill

Favourite gymnasts? Anna Bessonova (Ukraine), Irina Tchachina (Russia), Katsiaryna Halkina (Belarus)

Currently watching? Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Currently listening to? “Caribbean Queen” by Billy Ocean

Career highlights? I’ve been to two World Championships, multiple World Cups, but these Commonwealth Games were incredibly memorable.

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Rhea L Nath
Rhea L Nath
Rhea L Nath is a writer and editor based in Sydney. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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