Big stage beckons Beucker
SHE used to be an artistic gymnast but just one look at aerobic gymnastics was enough to have Sophie Beucker hooked on the up-tempo sport.
The subsequent nine-year journey in her new discipline of choice has the 16-year-old ready to represent Australia for the second time.
Beucker has been named in the Australian team to compete at the Suzuki Aerobics World Cup in Tokyo, Japan on April 21-22.
The North Coast Gymnastics, Lismore athlete put herself among the top aerobic gymnasts in Australia last year with a second-place finish at the National Championships in Melbourne in the age group two (16-17 year old) category.
That result sealed her place in the national squad.
To switch from artistic to aerobic gymnastics was a no-brainer for the Richmond River High School student.
"I had a look at it and said 'I'd like to try that' when I was seven," she said.
"Then I gave up artistic a year later.
"But all that has helped with my strength and flexibility in aerobic gymnastics."
Beucker comes from a gymnastics-mad family and there was much celebration in her household when she qualified for the 2009 World Cup.
"My two little sisters Claudia and Harriet are gymnasts and my older sister Heidi and little brother Roan have also been gymnasts," she said.
"My little sisters were so happy they cried when I made the World Cup team in 2009."
Beucker came seventh at the 2009 event and realises it will not be any easier this time around.
"This time I'm in a higher age group but hopefully I can still do better," she said.
"The Japanese are always very competitive."
Despite aerobic gymnastics not being recognised at Olympic level, Beucker has a promising future in the sport according to North Coast Gymnastics assistant director Reen Light.
"She does a little bit of coaching here and she can be a good coach," she said.
"She can demonstrate skills to the kids so well.
"Sophie is a great asset to the club, she's outgoing, always has a positive attitude and a big smile.
"She has a lot of power and control, her legs and body are very strong and she uses the floor well."
Beucker's career as an aerobic gymnast all started with one look at it as a seven-year-old.
But that one glimpse could lead to three decades of competition at elite level, unlike artistic gymnastics which is dominated by flexible young athletes.
"I met a 40-year-old man from Italy in 2009 who was still competing at World Cup level which I though was pretty cool," Beucker said.
"I'd like to teach more gymnastics one day."