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Australia's three-in-a-row chance

16 Mar 06 22:22
Monette Russo spearheads the Australian Gymnastics charge. 

Monette Russo spearheads the Australian Gymnastics charge.

Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Australia is favourite to go three-in-a-row in the Women's Artistic Gymnastics Team event at Rod Laver Arena, as Monette Russo spearheads the Aussie charge.

Russo will compete alongside a new crop of talented and well-prepared athletes in the second session of competition.

Australia's head coach Peggy Liddick has already anointed Chloe Sims and Hollie Dykes as the new generation of the sport. She described Dykes as the "most technically perfect" gymnast Australia has ever produced.

Youngest of the team, Victorian Ashleigh Brennan, 15, and Naomi Russell, a Vault and Uneven Bars specialist, are coming back from injury but are prepared for their senior international debuts.

Fiercest competition will come from England and Canada.

The English suffered a significant blow this week with an injury to captain and two-time Olympian Beth Tweddle. Tweddle and Russo were expected to go toe-to-toe in the All Round, with Russo now tipped to take gold.

World Championship Vault finalist Imogen Cairns will adopt the mantle of team leader, followed by adopted American, Shavahn Church, a strong all-round competitor. Canada, bronze medallist four years ago, will battle it out for the silver with the English.

Floor specialist Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and experienced Gael Mackie are Canada's guiding hopes. Mackie competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics and helped the team to a 10th-place finish.

- Games News Service

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