Alexandra Eade calls time on golden gymnastics career
After 18 years in the sport, Commonwealth Games Gold medallist Alexandra Eade has announced her retirement from competitive gymnastics.
Having achieved greatness and won a gold medal on home soil on the Gold Coast 2018, the constant struggle with injuries in the last year paired with the knowledge of not reaching her Olympic dream helped Eade make the difficult decision.
“I’ve been carrying quite a few injuries.” Eade admitted.
“My wrists have been pretty sore and I hurt my knee which just hasn’t been 100 per cent as well as other injuries I’ve been carrying from earlier in the year.
“I felt that if I was to continue, my body wouldn’t allow me to train at my full capacity for me to be able to gain individual qualification.
“I also felt it was time for me to move on and start studying and do other things in my life.”
Beginning her love for gymnastics at just four years of age, Eade’s active nature drew her onto a gymnastics floor at Grips Gymnastics Club in Ringwood, Victoria.
“I had a lot of energy as a child and one of the parents at the dancing class recommended gymnastics and the rest is history.” Eade laughed.
“I was lucky to attend my first nationals when I was nine years old and continued to train and going through the levels to see how far I could go.”
Eade’s success didn’t stop at the Australian National Championships, going on to compete internationally for the first time in 2010.
When asked about her favourite competition experience, there were a few that really stood out.
“You never forget the first time you experience travelling and representing Australia.” Eade explained.
“I was very lucky to walk away with some amazing results that very first international competition, but competing in all the World Cups, those competitions are really fun.”
Despite all the highlights, Eade pointed out that it was international competition on home soil that made the top of the list.
“The Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast was the biggest one for me. It changed my life and my outlook and perspective on things.
“It was very rewarding for me because of all the tough times I’ve been through in my gymnastics career.
“That was kind of a tipping point for me. When I made that team, it was amazing on its own. I wasn’t expecting to walk away with a gold medal but I’m so happy that I did. It’s something that I will never forget.”
Eade admitted that the last year had been a struggle with not being able to compete, the injuries taking their toll both physically and mentally. But as a professional athlete, Eade took it all in her stride with the aim of building on her physical fitness.
“This year has been really though with all the injuries.” Eade explained. “But I was working with my new physio really closely to get a recovery plan in place.
“I was in a (knee) brace for six weeks, on crutches and couldn’t do anything and it recovered fairly well. But it just didn’t get 100% right.
“I think I’ve learned that you need to listen to your body and understand that it’s injuries are going to hurt. It’s a sport that you put an immense amount of pressure on your body and you have to listen to it.”
Despite all the injuries, when reflecting on her career Eade can say she has no regrets and wouldn’t change any of the decisions or experiences she had.
“I think that it was really important for me to go through this year and I’ve learnt so many things about myself, including how not to do things!
“My mum always taught me to walk away from things you do without regrets and I can honestly say I’m doing that.”
“Each coach I’ve had over the years has brought a level of expertise to help me get to where I am today and I’m very grateful.”
Now looking forward to what life away from competition has in store, Eade credits her professional sporting career for many life lessons as she now prepares to return to university.
“The sport has taught me so much.” Eade said.
“I’ve been travelling the world without my family since I was around 12 years old for two even three weeks at a time. It’s going through failure, disappointment that taught me determination and that being mature is really important.
“I’m really lucky to have gone through all of those things multiple times in my career and that’s what has shaped me into the person that I am today.
“I do believe that it will help me with whatever I choose to do now.”
Gymnastics Australia Chief Executive Officer Kitty Chiller said she and the entire organisation was proud of Eade’s contribution to Women’s Artistic Gymnastics.
“Alex has been an incredible gymnast over so many years and while it will be sad to no longer see her in the green on gold on the competition floor, I am sure she will continue to contribute to a sport that she is so much a part of.” Ms Chiller said.
“All of us at Gymnastics Australia thank her for her contribution and wish her all the very best for the next stage of her career.”
Eade will now be shifting her focus to preparing for exams in the next few months as she hopes to achieve her next goal of studying medicine.