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Greek Olympian visits Eastside

YOUNG rhythmic gymnasts were given a masterclass by Greek Olympian Varvara Filiou during a recent visit to the Eastside Gymnasium.

Students of coach Nicola Oliver worked with Ms Filiou over two days to develop their skills and get a taste of what it is like to be a professional gymnast.

Ms Filiou represented Greece at the 2016 Rio Olympics and placed fourth at a World Championships in the ribbon event.

Since then she has been helping coach young rhythmic gymnasts around the world.

“To train with an Olympian is just one of those idol moments, so the girls get to experience and watch her perform,” Ms Oliver said.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for them to learn and glean new skills.

“We’re doing a lot of choreography for nationals, so it also helps them polish what they’re doing.”

Ms Filiou said she was invited by Ms Oliver to give the girls some international experience.

“I want to help these kids because they are so far from the rest of the world,” she said

“It’s really important that you get to travel and see how someone else is doing rhythmic gymnastics, so you get to see all these different techniques from different countries.”

Ms Filiou said rhythmic gymnastics was a unique sport as it helped people become stronger and more mature.

“The most important thing is that it grows your mind,” she said.

“It combines dancing, flexibility, balancing, apparatus and music to create a really beautiful sport where you can show your emotions.”

“From a young age, I made goals and never gave up trying to achieve them no matter how many times I failed – it has made me a stronger person.”

Thirteen-year-old Evelyn Hicks was part of the coaching masterclass and said she learnt so much from Ms Filiou.

“It was a really good opportunity to learn a bunch of new stuff and she’s got so much experience that helped her teach us,” she said.

Evelyn has been doing rhythmic gymnastics for about five years.

“It’s such an amazing sport to watch as well as be a part of and there are so many opportunities in it like this,” she said.

Caption: From left, Eastside rhythmic gymnasts Lucy Vandiepen, Lana Wooley, Bethany Harvey, Olympian Varvara Filiou, Evie Hocks, Ruby Richards, Indi Maguire and Elsie Appleton.