25 Apr 2024

Olympics 2024: Trampolining couple fall head over heels before Paris

7:25 pm on 25 April 2024

By Ian Ransom for Reuters

Dylan Schmidt and Maddie Davidson were selected for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and have now been selected for the Paris Olympics.

Dylan Schmidt and Maddie Davidson were both selected for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and have now been selected for the Paris Olympics. Photo: Photosport/ collage

For New Zealand's trampoline gymnastics team, the Paris Olympics will be a labour of love.

Dylan Schmidt and Maddie Davidson were Olympic team mates in Tokyo but are returning to the Games as a couple seeking medals and inspiration from each other.

In a career of ups and downs, former world champion Schmidt became New Zealand's first Olympic medallist in gymnastics when the 27-year-old nabbed a bronze at the Tokyo Games.

He will compete in a third Olympics in the "City of Love" and cheer on his 25-year-old partner Davidson, who became New Zealand's first gymnast to qualify for the women's event at Tokyo.

While Schmidt and Davidson can bounce ideas off each other as elite trampolinists both are mindful of the need to keep a healthy split between their sport and private lives.

"It's not the first topic that comes up when we go out to dinner," Schmidt told Reuters of their athletic pursuits.

"We tend to leave the advice to our coaches."

Maddie Davidson and Dylan Schmidt have been chosen to compete in trampolining at the Paris Olympics.

Photo: Supplied/ Olympics NZ

Keeping a professional distance is not as hard as it sounds, given the pair train at opposite ends of New Zealand. Schmidt is based in Auckland, while Davidson is based in Christchurch.

They try to catch up every couple of weeks.

Olympic flames

The opening ceremony for the 2024 Olympics will be held on the River Seine and in the Gardens of the Trocadero.

An artist's impression of what the opening ceremony in Paris could look like. Photo: Supplied/Paris 2024

Romance between athletes is often forged in the cauldron of competition and Paris will undoubtedly light the spark for a number of future relationships.

United States women's soccer icon Megan Rapinoe met her partner Sue Bird, the former basketball player, at a team photo shoot for the 2016 Rio Olympics and both qualified for Tokyo as a couple.

Australian rugby sevens players Charlotte Caslick and Lewis Holland also competed as an item in Tokyo.

Covid-19 stole much of the romance from the Games in Japan, where athletes were largely unable to mix outside their entourages due to strict social distancing protocols.

"It was such a different experience," said Davidson, who was among the few New Zealanders able to watch Schmidt's podium moment at the venue in Tokyo.

"The lead-up also was not ideal for training due to all the travel restrictions."

No such impediments exist this time round for Paris, where the Kiwi couple will arrive well-prepared and with a proper complement of family and friends to roar them on.

Davidson narrowly missed the final in Tokyo but expects to reach new heights at the Bercy Arena after working with a sports psychologist on her mental game.

Like much of gymnastics, any slight mistake in trampoline can have devastating consequences for a routine's score and possibly years of regret for an athlete between Olympic cycles.

An uncharacteristic flop for Hikaru Mori, the reigning women's world champion at her home Tokyo Games, put her out of qualifying and shocked the host nation.

"Your brain and body can become disconnected," said Davidson. "You have to try to stop and appreciate the moment, not be like a deer in the headlights."

Away from the competition hall, Schmidt and Davidson have more practical concerns, including whether they room together in the Olympic village.

While they often travel to competition as a couple, neither are married to the idea of sharing a flat at the village. The New Zealand Olympic Committee has yet to confirm arrangements for the team.

"We're not going to be kicking and screaming if we're not rooming together," said Schmidt.

"We're there for the performance, you know.

"We're not there for a holiday."

- Reuters

  • 15-strong NZ athletics team named for Olympics
  • Trampolinist Dylan Schmidt named for third Olympics
  • No stress: Relaxed Schmidt chasing back-to-back golds
  • Why do males continue to dominate NZ gymnastics?
  • Schmidt wins trampoline bronze