IT’S hard to believe one short visit to the PCYC in 1980, simply to see if she could help out with the gymnastics community, has led to the career Lucy Gifford has enjoyed in Orange.
Gifford moved to Orange 34 years ago, and after querying the gym buffs embarked on what became a 19-year career with the PCYC mentoring and developing Orange’s best and brightest prospective gymnasts.
In 1999 she established her own gym, Central West Gymnastics (CWG), based at Kinross Wolaroi School which now boasts over 150 students and is considered one of the premier gyms in the state.
Since she moved to town Gifford has been an integral part of gymnastics in Orange, committing upwards of six days a week coaching and developing the sport in the country.
All of her effort was rewarded when she was awarded the Australia Day sporting personality of the year award, at Cook Park yesterday.
While presenting the award yesterday, Orange City Council sport and recreation co-ordinator Ben Keegan said Gifford is “a prime example of why the sporting personality of the year award was developed”.
“Lucy has made a positive impact on hundreds of young lives.” Keegan said.
“A number of gymnasts under Lucy’s care have gone on to win state and national titles, and there is no doubt their success can largely be attributed to Lucy’s knowledge, dedication and passion for gymnastics. Lucy is described as a caring, supportive and dedicated mentor, and is a tremendous asset to Orange and worthy recipient of this award.”
Gifford was shell-shocked after receiving the award, describing it as “overwhelming”.
“I’m stunned,” she said.
“You don’t do it for awards, it’s just so nice to see the young gymnasts developing.
“I just want to say that every day of that 34 years has been a joy, and delight to coach the young children.”
In the last three years Gifford has scaled back her duties, and taken on the role of manager at CWG.