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Gym coach seeks medal contender

  • Gym coach seeks medal contender

    Gymnastics coach Peggy Liddick hopes to find an Olympic medallist at this week's national titles.

Australian gymnastics coach Peggy Liddick has just one pre-determined criteria heading into this week's national championships - find the gymnast who stands the best chance of ending the nation's Olympic medal duck.

The race to nab the sole berth on offer in the women's artistic program in Rio reaches it's crescendo in Melbourne this week, with the national titles - which double as Olympic selection trials - starting on Wednesday.

While results this week won't be the sole piece of evidence Liddick uses to make her nomination, final impressions in the winner-takes all shootout will count for plenty.

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And Liddick has no pre-conceived idea of what sort of gymnast she is looking for - other than she wants one capable of delivering Australia a first Olympic medal in the sport.

"I don't know if it's going to be a specialist (on one apparatus), I don't know if it's going to be an allrounder," Liddick told AAP.

"I've got to see who shows up in the best shape, who has the highest world rankings, who has the best chance to make a final and then ultimately win a medal.

"All those things have to be put into consideration ... it could be anybody actually."

The on-paper and sentimental favourite will be 2010 world champion Lauren Mitchell in what will be her return to high-level competition following a serious knee injury.

In what looms as the 24-year-old's last shot at a Games, Mitchell will compete on the beam and the floor - the latter the apparatus on which she won Australia's one and only world title.

At her best, Mitchell shapes as Australia's best medal contender given the difficulty of her routine on both apparatus.

"She has her full difficulty back, she's just working on steadying her performance now," Liddick said of Mitchell.

Mitchell will face stiff competition from 23-year-old Larrissa Miller, the uneven bars silver medallist from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, who will compete on both the bars and the floor.

Then there's the challenge presented by the new brigade led by the likes of 16-year-old Rianna Mizzen and 18-year-old Georgia Godwin.

Liddick concedes this week's battle for one spot could have been a little less intense had Australia qualified a team for Rio - having fallen just outside the qualifying mark at last month's test event.

"There's 10 or 12 girls up for the one spot now," Liddick said.

"It's a lot of pressure on that one athlete ... it'll be a hard task whoever does get selected."

Qualifying begins on Wednesday night, with the all-around final on Friday night and apparatus finals on Saturday and Sunday.

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