By PHILIP CHANDLER
ONE of Australia’s foremost gymnasts who found fame 15 years ago now lives in Queenstown.
Monette Russo — who now sports the married name of Davis — was the first Australian gymnast to win an individual world championship medal.
She won bronze in the all-around competition — bars, beam, floor and vault — at the world artistic gymnastics champs in her home city of Melbourne in 2005.
Davis was also part of the Aussie team who won bronze at the world champs two years earlier, and competed for her country at the Athens Olympics, in Greece, in 2004, where Australia attained their best Games placing of eighth.
And she was in the Aussie gold medal-winning team at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, before retiring the following year.
Davis says competing in Athens — she was only 16 at the time — was special because of the city’s history with the Olympics.
‘‘Just in the lead-up I sustained an injury to my right shin, so I didn’t get to compete further than the team competition, but it was still an amazing experience.’’
At the elite level, she enjoyed both the friends she made and all the travel — she travelled around the world from when she was 12, competing for Australia at the junior level, till she pulled pin at 19.
What she loved most about the sport was competing — ‘‘getting out there and performing after all the hard work you’d done behind the scenes’’.
She used to train 36 hours a week in addition to her school work.
In more recent years, before shifting to Queenstown in 2018, Davis did TV commentary on gymnastics for Fox Sports in Australia.
‘‘I definitely still love the sport.
‘‘I think it’s such a great sport for all kids, and any age, really — you just work every part of your body — and it helps for other sports as well.’’
Davis, 32, who this year married her partner, Queenstown local Jana Davis, has also helped out with the local gymnastics club.
Asked about the controversy in New Zealand over revelations of bullying in the sport, she says she was grateful she always enjoyed a really supportive environment.